By Teshome M. Borago
As the latest development with WHO’s appointment of Tedros Adhanom shows, the TPLF continues to benefit from the achievements of our ancestors. The fact is, if the TPLF was not able to mobilize and secure the support of all African nations; let alone winning the W.H.O. Director general seat, Tedros would not even be considered for the position, due to his lack of experience and his failures to report Cholera outbreaks. And this is where the irony of Tedros, and by extension, the TPLF, continues to reappear like a plague.
Over the last 20 years, the TPLF has mastered the art of manipulating the African Union (AU) and its regional blocs like IGAD. Meles Zenawi used clever tactics and rhetoric to appear as a pan-African leader representing the whole continent, thus going to G8 & G20 Summits and exclusive forums. Due to the AU being headquartered in Addis Ababa, he was able to do just that. He also diplomatically outmaneuvered regional foes, like Asmara, and garnered geopolitical influence internationally. One of the benefits of this influence, for example, was keeping the UN silent about TPLF violating UN Commission’s border ruling with Eritrea. The end result is a “no war no peace” scenario that has crippled TPLF’s archenemy in Asmara.
What’s more, by harnessing Addis Ababa’s significance as a diplomatic outlet to the rest of Africa; and Ethiopia’s status as the biggest population in the region, TPLF leaders persuaded China to invest in massive infrastructure projects. TPLF used some of the mega projects financed by China (Ex. the grand hydro dams) to benefit politically at home, by triggering Ethiopian nationalism to divert public discontent and to pacify anti-government sentiment domestically.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s status as the capital of Africa and the home of AU, also led to various high profile visits from Western leaders, including President Barack Obama. Every state visit to Addis Ababa from foreign dignitaries legitimized and humanized the TPLF. Every official visit from western leaders was rubbed in the face of the Ethiopian people, using its media monopoly, to discourage dissidence and portray hopelessness among the opposition. All these developments, not only perpetuated Addis Ababa’s influence, but also emboldened the TPLF dictatorship as the international community continued to ignore or belittle its widespread human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. TPLF was so emboldened that it even lobbied in support of the war criminal dictator in Sudan against ICC, and again, it won …. thanks to a near unanimous support from AU members.
There are many more examples of how TPLF exploited Ethiopia’s status as one of the biggest countries by population and as the diplomatic center of Africa. If it was not for Addis Ababa’s prestige as the Headquarters of AU and UN ECA, the TPLF would have zero diplomatic leverage and it would have been just another irrelevant ragtag African militia.
Therefore, today, TPLF owes everything, including its survival, to the past glory of our ancestors.
The paradox in all of this is that, TPLF, the guerrilla movement, existed because it was against everything that made Ethiopia what it is today. TPLF came about by opposing the multiethnic nature of Ethiopia. TPLF’s manifesto was crafted as a rejection to our emperors and ancestors, who made Ethiopia a massive country (population) by uniting people from dozens of tribes and clans. TPLF opposed the idea of a multicultural nation-state with a melting pot in the middle (Shewa) where millions were born of parents of different ethnic background from every corner of the country. The TPLF hated everything about Ethiopia. Meles even said Ethiopia is only 100 years old and claimed that we have no shared history, no interaction before Menelik II. He and his TPLF henchmen destroyed our flag and our identity. They destroyed our country and divided it into tribal enclaves like Fascist Italy did. Instead of democratizing, they tribalised and robbed our nation: massacring thousands on the way. Much like the anti-Christ, if we are to define the anti-Ethiopia: TPLF would be its acronym.
That is why it is surprising today how TPLF manages to survive owing to everything that defined Ethiopia. Addis Ababa became the capital of Africa because of political and diplomatic achievements of Emperor Haileselassie; the ruler TPLF hates. Ethiopia became a huge country in population because of our visionary emperors, Rases, and generals who united (by force, trade, intermarriages, assimilation etc) people from all walks of life in the Horn of Africa. And modern Ethiopia became famous worldwide and adored by black people globally because of the military achievements of Emperor Menelik; the leader TPLF despises. Therefore, It is an irony that Tedros Adhanom and his TPLF continue to succeed and survive due precisely to what they hated about Ethiopia.
The blind rubber-stamp vote for Tedros by African nations is yet another example of how TPLF benefited from Ethiopia’s historic prestige at the AU & UN.
So, What does all this teach us?
One of the main takeaways from the recent development is that nothing meaningful has really changed. Because, what makes Ethiopia great today is what our ancestors did decades and centuries ago. TPLF inherited a proud country of patriots who achieved greatness militarily and secured political & diplomatic prestige internationally. The dilemma is that the people profiting from Ethiopia’s past glory are those who hate Ethiopia; not those of us who love our country, our diversity and our history. And the only reason why we have not taken back our country from TPLF is because most of us are not ready to sacrifice (armed struggle) because it requires demolishing the Ethiopia (using years of civil war like EPLF/TPLF) we love. For example, TPLF views Ethiopian people as a foreign enemy so it was morally justified and ideologically acceptable for TPLF to massacre and kill tens of thousands of our people to overthrow the DERG regime. But for us, we consider Tigrayans part of us, our blood, because Tigrayans are Ethiopians so most of our people still consider armed struggle morally wrong and ideologically unreasonable.
Another lesson from this paradox is that TPLF will always depend on the gun, not on principles, because it has no consistent principles. For example, one of the most revealing period of TPLF’s rule was in September 2007, when Ethiopia celebrated the new millennium. After annoying us with their propaganda that Ethiopia is only 100 years old, Meles Zenawi and his TPLF henchmen completely changed their story 180 degrees and proclaimed that Ethiopia is an ancient country, thousands of years old. By celebrating an Ethiopian millennium that they previously rejected, TPLF’s strategy was to calm down the anti-government protests and the post-election tension that threatened its rule then. The TPLF’s brief pro-Ethiopia strategy worked masterfully; but it probably confused the EPRDF cadres who really believed in the nonsense “revolutionary” tribal philosophy which wrongly defined Ethiopia as a young “Amara” empire that colonized everybody else. Such flip-flopping and ideological inconsistency is a reason why TPLF will never have the popular support to rule Ethiopia democratically.
The fact that TPLF has no consistent principles and the irony that it continues to exploit Ethiopia’s past glory to feed its current dictatorship is proof that TPLF is very fragile ideologically; despite its military dominance. This is proof that our cause is greater and this is proof that our patriotic ancestors were visionary. And for those of us Ethiopians struggling against this tribal fascist regime today and fighting for democracy; it is the light at the end of the tunnel.