Since its inception and gradual elevation to a formidable force in Ethiopia, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has been defined by relentless greed for territorial aggrandizement and mounting military adventurism, posing a perpetual threat to peace and stability in the country’s Northern Region.
The group was formed, born, and raised in the jungle, with a stubborn and militaristic mindset from the outset. At a critical juncture in our recovery from the wounds we have received and the destruction of livelihoods caused by previous confrontations, the TPLF’s renewed appetite for another lethal and catastrophic assault in the nation’s northern region for a third round is becoming unbearable in light of widely acclaimed peace efforts expected to materialize between the Federal Government and its outright foe.
The renegade leadership of the group has vowed to attack the Amhara Region on many fronts once more in an unprecedented effort to regain the Wolkait-Tsegede and Setit-Humera territories previously taken in the initial phase of the “law-enforcement operation” initiated by the Federal Government in November 2020. This is because it cannot, by its very nature, afford to survive more than a day or two without inciting hostilities.
Despite being driven out of its key strongholds by the assault, it has been planning a third-round invasion of surrounding territories regardless of peace agreements on the table since the humanitarian truce was agreed with the Federal Government on March 24, 2022.
Surprisingly, the federal administration has made it very apparent to both friends and opponents in the international community that it wishes to negotiate peace with the group at any time and in any location, with no preconditions.
This has been unveiled first by Redawan Husein (Amb.), national security advisor to the Prime Minister, and complemented by Billene Seyoum, press secretary, to mention a few.
However, in exchange for this modest gesture, the TPLF insists on the restoration of banking, telecommunications, and electricity services in Tigray, as well as the restoration of Tigrayan dominance over the Wolkait-Tsegedie, also known as “Western Tigray.”
Among the demands were also for the Tigrayan Defense Force (TDF) to be preserved; humanitarian supplies such as food, medicine, fertilizers, and fuel be delivered to the region both by air and land; and those who might have committed international crimes in the conflict be promptly and impartially investigated, prosecuted, and brought to justice before any sort of dialogue takes place at all.
What a big impediment to the chance of peace!
For its part, the Federal Government maintains that a large consignment of humanitarian aid, as well as a large sum of money and fuel, has already been transported and is still being transferred into the war-torn and starved region in a more organized and accelerated manner than ever before, with the assistance and collaboration of donor nations and other international aid agencies.
As a result, “no negotiations may begin as contemplated so long as a proper ceasefire agreement has not been validly signed between the two belligerents, let alone the anticipated resumption of essential services,” reiterate Ethiopian Federal Government authorities at various levels.
They have called on the European Union and American brokers, ostensibly operating on behalf of the African Union Commission, to apply extraordinary pressure on the rogue group to modify its hard stance in favor of permanent and true peace.
Demeke Mekonnen, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, is the latest political heavyweight to emphasize the government’s steadfast commitment to a negotiated settlement.
While addressing the cultural communities gathered in Sekota for the Shaday celebrations on August 21, 2022, Demeke could not help but strongly urge the TPLF to evacuate the remaining Woredas and Kebeles in the Amhara Region or risk punitive action.
He urged the group to lay down their arms in order to avoid another fatal struggle with tragic consequences. Nonetheless, the group threatens to put the Federal Government to the test with another invasion.
In that situation, Ethiopia’s unilaterally exerted persuasive diplomacy does not appear to have worked fairly enough in the aftermath of the TPLF’s bad faith towards the entire initiative, which should have been supported totally in the wider interest of regional peace and stability.
Giving peace a longer opportunity, without a doubt, harms no one’s interests. By any standard, it is worthwhile to strive for.
Contributed by Merhatsidk Mekonnen Abayneh