A Loud and Clear Lesson – For Ethiopia and the World

First things first: as I write so-called peace talks are underway between the democratically elected government of Ethiopia and The Terrorist TPLF. That in itself is a bizarre sentence, and prompts an array of related questions, and issues around law and order, justice, national governance. To be clear, the TPLF have never wanted peace, and are not in South Africa (where the talks are taking place) to find a way to end the conflict that they started and perpetuated for two long and deeply painful years. They want power, they have engaged in talks because they have been defeated, but talks about what?

Holding hands with the TPLF men at, or more likely, under the table — out of sight — are US/UN ‘observers’. The reason for their attendance is, one assumes, to ensure TPLF bosses are kept out of prison and allowed to slip away in the night and find amnesty somewhere. Canada has been mentioned as a possible destination, although why the Canadians (or anyone else in fact) would want them is a mystery. A cell in the Hague would be my choice as they eke out their days waiting to be tried in the International Criminal Court.

In the days and weeks leading up to the negotiations, the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) has taken control of remaining towns in Tigray, including the capital Mekelle, and the fighting appears to have subsided. The only thing left to negotiate, then, is what to do with the TPLF leaders; this is not a difficult conundrum that requires hours or diplomatic chit-chat, and foreign advisers. They, the TPLF are terrorists, and should be treated in the same way that say, ISIS commanders would be, i.e., like criminals — arrested, imprisoned and tried. Their foreign assets (they stole an estimated $30 billion when in office) frozen and seized, and the monies utilized to fund rebuilding work.

The TPLF may have a few members of the “international community” rubbing up against them in Pretoria, but the Ethiopian government sits proud with millions and millions of Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia packed into the room, and they are roaring! Wide-ranging support for the government, and love for their countrymen and women, of all ethnic backgrounds, was displayed on 22 October, when, in cities throughout the land people, young and old, assembled, marched, sang and danced. Massive crowds demanded an end to foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation, and wrapped their arms around the government as it prepared for the African Union convened ‘peace talks’.

No US support no war

Throughout their destructive 27 year reign, the TPLF worked relentlessly to divide communities; systematically setting ethnic groups, that had for generations lived together harmoniously, against one another. But nothing unites a nation more than a shared enemy, and Ethiopia has had two since November 2020 – the TPLF and America/The West, three if we include corporate media. The people are now united, and that sense of fellowship includes the people of Tigray – all are Ethiopians, all share the pain of the nation and all long for peace. The TPLF is the enemy, the US is the enemy, corporate media is the enemy, not Tigrayans.

Without US support — militarily and politically — the TPLF would have been unable to wage war on the Ethiopian State; no war, no death, no rape, no displacement of persons, no destruction of property burning of land, killing of livestock, no national trauma. The US is not simply complicit in the terrorism carried out by the TPLF over the last two years, and indeed during their 27 years in office, they are the enabler. The US Policy of Aggression and Derision directed against the Ethiopian government and the people, the economic sanctions, against one of the poorest nations in the world, the conspiring and duplicity, the misleading briefings and media dis/misinformation campaign emboldened the TPLF and granted them false legitimacy.

And where the US goes her allies and puppets, follow, including corporate media, which has been integral to the mis-dis information campaign, as have, somewhat bizarrely, the US Holocaust Museum, which has recently joined the party. And as talks go on these forces of duplicity and confusion continue to treat the TPLF as if they were an equivalent party to the government, rather than the monsters they are. It is shameful, but when truth and facts become a matter of opinion to be spun according to motive and self-interest it is extremely dangerous. Groups like the TPLF can only exist in the shadows, within Caves of Deceit; throw the light of truth upon them, and like the Many Headed Hydra, they shrivel up and die.

Looking for real friends

The US-supported war in Ethiopia has revealed, if demonstration were needed, in the most vivid manner, the fabric of US foreign policy and where American/Western loyalties lie. Unsurprisingly it’s with their own vested interests, or what they perceive these to be; geo-political reach, regional power, no matter the cost — human, environmental and/or social.

So, the lesson loud and clear, and perhaps this is something worth articulating in Pretoria, is the realization that, the US and ‘the West’ more broadly, including media and some institution are not to be trusted. This fact and the hurt caused by what Ethiopians rightly regard as a betrayal, will no doubt influence how Ethiopia moves forward, who it sees as ‘friends’ and allies, where it looks for support, and who it can trust and depend on.

Outrage has been felt, not just in Ethiopia but across Africa, both at the terrorist attack on their neighbour, and the response of the US/West. This will strengthen pre-existing suspicions and further energise Pan Africanism, already strengthened in recent years, and foster greater unity across the region and continent.

African nations have long been exploited by colonial powers, post-colonial institutions — the International Monetary Fund, World Bank etc, and imposed financial systems (the scandalous Structural Adjustment Programmes e.g.), which, while masquerading as ‘aid’ and/or ‘development programmes’, have ensured countries remain more or less poor, dependent and therefore malleable.

Former colonial bodies of repression and violence (US, European countries, UK), are now in crisis themselves. Economic and political instability, ideological failure and cultural insecurity abound. And as the socio-economic model that has dominated policy making (including foreign affairs) for decades disintegrates in front of our eyes, politicians, lacking humility and vision, wedded to the past, have no answers and continually stack failure upon failure.

The legacy of the global Neo-Liberal experiment is deeply divided societies of largely unhealthy people, and a man-made environmental catastrophe. Mental health illness is at epidemic proportions and climate change/ecological breakdown caused by reckless consumerism threatens the very survival of the race.

A development model, shaped around the same socio-economic paradigm that has caused the chaos has been forced on Ethiopia and all Sub-Sharan African nations. Countries are not seen as nation states with rich individual cultures, but potential marketplaces and natural resource banks.

The model is inherently unjust, benefitting a few at the expense of the many, and is made more so when applied to so-called developing nations (such terms, like the ideals they refer to and the divisions they strengthen should be consigned to the past). It is a corrupt model that, as Ethiopia moves forward and African nations look increasingly towards one another, needs to be closely examined, and in the light of need, not exploitation and profit, re-defined.

Discussions around theses issues, as well as the nature of development, democracy, environmental concerns and regional/continental unity can slowly begin to be taken up, nationally and regionally. Platforms for debate and participation established throughout the country and a vibrant space created in which people from all ethnic groups can contribute. For now though, as Ethiopia gently emerges from the violent shadow of the TPLF, united but scarred, the focus must firstly be on healing and re-construction.

Many will be traumatized and recovery will take time; the rebuilding work will be immense (construction/repair of schools, health services, housing etc), and government will require substantial support, both financial, technical and practical.

But there is no limit to what can be achieved by a united populace, building upon a platform of peace and brotherhood. The people are resolute, weary yes, but strong, supportive of one another and deeply kind, and this is potentially (we must add that caveat), the beginning of a new chapter in the life of the country. An ancient nation with a rich diverse culture that has suffered much and for far too long; a new day, quiet and full of joy let us pray, a time free from conflict and the vile poison of the TPLF.

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: grahampeebles@icloud.com  W: www.grahampeebles.org