The Pretoria agreement of 2022 is a welcome development, and we all hope it succeeds. It is not necessary to be a prophet to understand that the people of Tigray desired liberty, as did the people of the rest of Ethiopia.
By the same token, the people of Tigray, like the rest of Ethiopia, desired peace. The amalgam brings us peace because, as Marcus Tullius Cicero said just before being beheaded by order of the Tyrant of Rome, Mark Antony, in 43 BC, “peace is liberty in tranquillity.”
But to wish for peace is one thing; to embrace it is another. As long as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) remains, its track record shows they will never embrace it. Thus, though people are rejoicing that an armistice has been signed in Pretoria, real peace will be fleeting. It will remain a mirage. As if that is not bad enough, when these wayward renegades have enablers in the West, it becomes even worse.
The TPLF was not serious when it signed the Pretoria armistice. The West is in cahoots with them, and it knows full well that its leaders are not serious about their commitment to the armistice agreements. That is why it is wrong to trust the cabal and agree to make them partners in peacebuilding.
Let us learn from history. Had the allied powers given Hitler and his minions a chance to survive the final assault and participate in the development of post-war Germany in 1945, the history of that country, which is now the richest in Europe, would have been different.
The allied powers went all the way to cleanse Germany of the Nazi legacy. That was why they convened the Nuremberg Tribunal. Many Nazis, knowing the consequences of facing punishment that fits the crime, chose to commit suicide. Among them were the prime offender, Adolf Hitler, and several of his closest aides.
Prominent members of the political and military leadership of the Third Reich were executed by hanging as prescribed by the Nuremberg Tribunal. One, Hermann Goering, chosen by Hitler to be his successor and also declared “Marshal of the Empire,” ingested cyanide and committed suicide in jail.
Those who fled Germany, such as Adolph Eichmann, were later apprehended and sentenced to death, in his case in Israel. At the end of the war, therefore, there was a clean slate. That is what allowed Germany to reconstruct and become the great, highly developed democratic nation in Europe today.
The same is true for Japan. The Americans went to the extent of using atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing over 210,000 people. When the leader, Hideki Tajo, asked the Americans to agree to save at least the honor and life of the emperor, who was almost worshipped by the Japanese, MacArthur (Gen.) demanded unconditional surrender. The tyrant had no choice but to give himself up with his gang members.
At a Nuremberg-style tribunal in Tokyo, Tajo, the Japanese premier of the warmongering Tokyo regime and chief of its ruthless invading army, was sentenced to death and hanged along with six other top Japanese leaders, including Iwane Matsui, who organized the sacking of Nanking, and Heitaro Kimura, who brutalized Allied prisoners of war. 16 others were sentenced to life imprisonment.
As a result, Japan, like Germany, also started its reconstruction on a clean slate. We all know how democratic, technologically advanced, and economically powerful Japan is today.
When we look at civil wars that are rather similar to the current conflict in Northern Ethiopia, one that immediately comes to mind is the Nigerian-Biafran war that raged between 1967 and 1970.
After Nigeria became independent in 1960, the new state sought to bring together groups splintered by ethnicity and religion, the opposite of what the Woyanes did when they came to power in Ethiopia in 1991. The uniting process in Nigeria slowly led to conflicts that fomented two military coups, from which the leaders of the country’s northern region emerged victorious.
For the Igbos of the east, who were rich in natural resources, the modus operandi was unacceptable. So, they declared their homeland, the Eastern Region, the Republic of Biafra, with Odumegwu Ojukwu as its uncontested leader.
Despite recognition by some African states and tacit support from Western countries such as France, the Nigerian Federal Military Government wouldn’t allow the oil-rich Igbo entity to secede from sovereign Nigeria. In the vicious war that followed, the federal government, with its superior forces, ruthlessly crushed the Biafran rebels.
The war and the famine claimed the lives of over a million people, but in the end, the Republic of Biafra was totally crushed and ceased to exist after its officers surrendered in January 1970. For Nigerians, this is just a footnote to their history.
Another civil war that bears a resemblance to the war in Northern Ethiopia is the rise of the Tamil Tigers, who fought the Sri Lankan state, from which they intended to secede, for 26 years.
The war had claimed thousands of victims, but tragic and appalling as it was, it was the only way to end that nation’s bitter civil war. The Tamil Tigers were completely defeated by the federal armed forces, leaving only the mayhem they caused as a footnote in Sri Lankan history.
There are others. In Africa, we can look at the fate of Angola’s right-wing UNITA movement, which refused to be governed under the socialist MPLA government in Luanda. This reactionary force fought for 27 years
The UNITA army, marooned in the remotest regions, ultimately collapsed, and peace returned to the country. In the end, UNITA and Savimbi became merely footnotes in Angola’s history.
Fast forward to just before the Pretoria meeting, which was led by none other than Getachew Reda, and the TPLF leaders, including Debretsion and Tsadkan, held a Zoom conference with their diaspora supporters, numbering in thousands, in which they pledged never to give up the armed struggle in urban areas like Hawzein, though they might agree to a ceasefire because the federal armed forces have the upper hand in the battles.
Can we also trust the West to broker the deal in Pretoria? I am afraid not. Let us take the cases of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gadhafi. Sadam Hussein, who was working hard to modernize his country, was duped when the West provided him with chemical weapons to fight against their erstwhile enemy, Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, in the vicious war that raged from 1980 to 1989.
Hussein discovered the ruse too late. Unbeknownst to him, they were encouraging him to believe that Washington would accept him as its key ally in the Gulf region, which was a mirage. The Iraqi leader never imagined Washington’s deceit, that his modernization of Iraq was unacceptable to them, and that the decision to destroy his regime and control the huge oil reserves in his country had already been made.
In a propaganda blitz spearheaded by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, they accused Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction and invaded Baghdad. After the invasion, Washington admitted to falsely using weapons of mass destruction as a pretext to invade Iraq. The invasion was a prelude to the ultimate capture and hanging of the Iraqi leader on December 13, 2003.
Eight years later, the US and its NATO allies turned their attention to invading Libya. The casus belli was gross human rights violations under Gadhafi. Nevertheless, human rights organizations questioned the claims due to a lack of evidence.
The West had ulterior motives, which were being hatched in Brussels and Luxembourg, as it later became clear. Before attacking him, they cajoled him into renunciating his nuclear ambitions, à la North Korea.
The war waged against Gadhafi had nothing whatsoever to do with human rights. As was later shown in published emails by Hilary Clinton, the US and NATO acted to prevent Gaddafi from establishing an African central bank with its own gold-backed currency.
The West’s action was, in fact, to prevent the creation of a hard independent currency in Africa that would free the continent from its economic bondage under the USD, the IMF, and the French African franc. That hard currency would have enabled Africa to shake off the vestiges of colonial exploitation.
Clinton’s emails later laid bare that NATO’s entry into Libya had nothing to do with the maltreatment of Libyans under Gadhafi; it was to protect Western-owned multinationals’ interests. Clinton’s visit to Libya in October 2011 was dubbed by the Western media as a “victory lap.”
On hearing of the capture and hanging of el-Qaddafi, Clinton in a CBS interview said, “We came, we saw, he died!” Libya was quickly pushed to the back burner, resulting in chaos. Civil war raged, destabilizing the region and fueling the refugee crisis in Europe that the West was trying to contain.
Lest we forget, one cardinal topic not raised in the armistice agreement, undoubtedly under the strong insistence of the Ethiopian government, is the fate of the Eritrean army that came in support of Ethiopian armed forces upon the sovereign invitation of Addis Ababa.
This topic, which is rarely discussed among Ethiopians, is a hot topic if you look at the echo chamber of TPLF supporters, DW (Dimtsi Weyane). They want the Eritrean army to disengage. However, the alliance between Addis Ababa and Asmara is recognized by international law.
It also has numerous precedents. When Hitler declared war on the UK in 1939, Churchill asked Roosevelt to join him in the struggle against their common enemy, and the US did. With a combined force, they defeated the Nazis.
Ethiopia also defeated the Ottoman-manned and armed El Ghazi forces in 1541 by inviting its Christian ally Portugal, which sent 400 musketeers under the leadership of Cristovao da Gama, the son of the famous explorer Vasco da Gama, and with the combined force of Ethiopia and Portugal, victory was achieved.
When Siad Bare’s revanchist army invaded Ethiopia in 1977, also, the Derg sought and received heavy armaments from the Soviet Union and internationalist brigade support from Cuba led by the Lion of Angola, Ochoa (Col.). Together, they decimated the Siad Bare invading forces in Harargie.
There is a saying that “for every cloud, there is a silver lining.” Call me an incorrigible optimist. This chance alliance between the proud Habasha people both within and beyond the Mereb may lead to the first confederation and then federation, an event that has eluded us since 1993.
(Paulos Milkias (PhD) is a Prof. of Political Science at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.)
Contributed by Paulos Milkias (PhD)