The Ethiopian government announced that the eight months of war in Tigray has weakened the internal strength of the country and exposed it to external threats.
In a press conference the State Minister of Foreign Affairs Redwan Hussein (Amb.) and Army Building Works Main Coordinator of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) Bacha Debele (Left. Gen.) gave on June 30, 2021 at the Ministry, the two said that the Tigray war has made the country incur huge human and material costs over the eight months.
Regrating that all the efforts to avert the looming conflict before the war were made in vain, Redwan said that lives have been lost from both sides and the country’s capacity has been hugely impacted because of the engagement.
“Ethiopia has been exposed to external attacks. It is immediately after we entered the conflict that our border on the west was occupied,” Redwan lamented. “All the problems we feared had happened.”
He explained that the conventional war was conducted for three weeks and the conflict is no more with soldiers wearing uniforms. Therefore, the army had to withdraw from Tigray to minimize civilian casualties, he said. In addition, the country’s meagre resources are being spent on the war in billions which need to be put into other developmental projects, Redwan said.
“The destruction caused is immense. Excluding the spending of the military, more than 100 billion birr had been spent on Tigray war. As you are aware, the annual budget of Tigray is eight billion birr. Hence, a budget for more than a decade has been spent on the war,” he stated. “When we add the cost by the military, it is be beyond what the country could handle.”
Redwan also ripped into the international community saying that they appeared like angels helping the country by making analysis of the situation as if they knew Ethiopia like the palm of their hand while they only saw it once or twice. In addition, he said many are pressuring Ethiopia and hindering its access to finance while the country is covering 70 percent of the humanitarian assistance in the region. Countries not only denied their support but also used their long arms to prevent others from providing any assistance to the country.
When it became inevitable that the dam will be filled the second time, countries have started conducting joint military trainings to fight Ethiopia. Hence, he said, the military was withdrawn to reinforce the border with Sudan. The decision for the army’s withdrawal was a political decision also intended to allow farmers plough their land during the upcoming harvest season.
Bacha, for his part, said that when the military occupied Mekelle, it was the center of gravity from where political, economic and diplomatic decisions were made. The goal at the time was to create imbalance to the enemy forces and destroy them, he added saying that, when the army left Mekelle, it has lost its importance for the military.
Bacha also argued against accusations of rapes and extrajudicial killings by the military, saying the TPLF wore the army uniform and caused the atrocities for only the military to be blamed. But later the public started to stand against the military provoking them to attack civilians, which Bacha said won’t happen as this is not in the nature of the military’s doctrine.
Bacha also said that the army deployed in Tigray amounted to more than 50,000 soldiers. But maintaining all this force in Tigray while they are looking for 17 generals and 12 civilians is not feasible, leading to the withdrawal.
But he denied the claims that the army left Mekelle because it was defeated by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) saying that the TPLF did not stand the military even when it had the army’s ammunition and missiles let alone now when it only possesses Kalashnikovs.
He justified this by indicating that a convoy of two and three thousands vehicles left Tigray without an incident, which the TPLF would have attacked had it possessed the capabilities.
“We were not there to liberate Mekelle and staying there is no different than going to Tembien. Hence, it is a huge relief for the army to have withdrawn from Tigray. We confined the TPLF in Tigray,” he said.
We left Tigray to address other national threats and the TPLF is no more a threat for the country, he concluded.