by Amanuel Biedemariam
On February 22, 2021, the EU’s Council of Ministers held a conference in Brussels and addressed geopolitical and security-related issues related to countries in many regions around the world.
Three days later, Eritrea was raised as a country of concern during the 46thSession of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Eritrea rejected the Report of the “Special Rapporteur” as,
“Presumptive on current realities, and sheer resuscitation of discredited previous reports on substantive and procedural terms.” And said the statement, “Attempts to deflect attention from high crimes perpetrated by the TPLF clique and downplaying its culpability will not serve the cause of regional peace and stability.”
In less than a week, on the 26thof February Amnesty International released a biased slanderous report of atrocities committed by Eritrean troops based on testimonies of 31 individuals that are connected with the Mycadra Massacre. These are members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) army living in Hamdayet Refugee camp in Sudan.
Eritrea, through the Minister of Information Yemane GhebreMeskel’s Twitter, handle responded,
“Amnesty International’s report is transparently unprofessional and it is evident that the AI makes no effort to get the facts right and cross-check the veracity of the allegations. Sadly, this is not the first time for the AI to level politically motivated, defamatory attacks against Eritrea.”
In less than a week since the consultation with the European Union, on February 27, 2021, Secretary Blinken released a press statement reiterating the position of the EU and went a step further and demanded,
“The immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces and Amhara regional forces from Tigray are essential first steps. They should be accompanied by unilateral declarations of cessation of hostilities by all parties to the conflict and a commitment to permit unhindered delivery of assistance to those in Tigray.”
The US has been a staunch ally of Ethiopia, especially since WWII. Despite a short pause of relations from 1975 until 1991, during Col. Mengistu Hailemariam’s reign, Ethiopia has been a critical nation to the US in Africa.
It is, therefore, unexpected for a high-level US official, the Secretary of State, to demand the Amhara region citizens of Ethiopia to vacate from their own country’s land of Tigray. The Tigray region is part of Ethiopia. Furthermore, the government of Ethiopia is a legitimate government and capable of protecting its interests and making its own decisions. Though no evidence is presented as to the presence of Eritrean troops in Northern Ethiopia, it is not up to the US to demand or dictate Eritrea to withdraw from Ethiopia. It is Ethiopia’s and only Ethiopia’s call to make.
So, what were the EU Brussels ministerial meeting, Amnesty International’s Northern Ethiopia Tigray report, UNHCR’s Rapporteur on Eritrea message, and Secretary Blinken’s coordinated messages all about? The timing was not coincidental. What are they trying to achieve?
These are important questions the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia need to understand. No one in his or her right mind believes the US or EU has good intentions, especially in Africa. The US and EU experience has been associated with massive humanitarian calamities.
Thence, to understand what the EU is trying to achieve in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the region, it is important to look at the totality of the agendas that the conference of EU’s foreign ministers addressed on 2/22/2021.
The EU’s agendas were very specific. They addressed Russia, Myanmar, Belarus, Hong Kong, Iran, Ethiopia, and engagement with the US. Specifically, consultation with Secretary Anthony Blinken about revamping US EU relations. The EU is pleased with the new Biden administration because they are in line with the European line of thinking regarding global and security-related issues.
If you remember, in 2014, the Obama administration announced Asia Pivot. The US shifted its focus away from the Middle East and more towards China’s sphere of influence in Asia.
You will also recall the Trump administration continued a robust Asia pivot strategy except it pursued it with little input from the European Union. The Trump administration put little emphasis on NATO and ensured the EU pays more because it is the primary beneficiary for the security that the US provides to the weak European nations from Russia’s advances.
The EU is advancing the Obama administration’s policy. A policy directed at impeding China’s massive Belt and Road (BRI) investments around the world. The countries in focus namely, Russia, Myanmar, Belarus, Hong Kong, Iran, and Ethiopia have to do with China. These are countries in that China invested heavily as part of the BRI.
If you look at Myanmar for example, after years of tense relations between Myanmar and China, China’s massive investment changed the nature of their relationship. Myanmar is strategically important to China’s BRI initiative and Myanmar is actively participating in that endeavor.
Hence, the EU’s NATO agendas are to bolster the US-NATO relations. To convince the new Biden Administration to play a major role in Europe’s defensive strategies. The EU’s Iran agenda is also part of the calculus designed to draw Iran into the western sphere of influence away from China and Russia. The latest US attacks in Syria are supposed to send a clear message to Iran, either to comply or face force. According to US diplomat Dennis Ross,
“The strike was limited but showed we would use force and clearly could do much more. We will see if the Iranians get the message.”
What the US and EU are trying to do in Ethiopia can only be seen within that context. China’s presence in Ethiopia is robust. After the transition in Ethiopia, PM Abiy Ahmed’s first major assignments were to get relief from the massive interests Ethiopia paid on the debt the TPLF accrued over the decades. China made the necessary adjustments. What that indicates is China’s footprints in Ethiopia are massive.
For the US and EU, Ethiopia in China’s sphere of influence and peace with Eritrea that excludes Europe is a scenario that they are not willing to entertain. Hence, they are trying to use the developments in Northern Ethiopia to inject a presence. The humanitarian crisis the EU, Amnesty, and the US amplify in Tigray is a strategy that they use in countries and regions of interest around the world. It is interference veiled as “Humanitarian Intervention” ala Libya.
The US Europe lead UNHCR report against Eritrea is part of the campaign. It is designed to create a noise that gross human rights violations are taking place in the region. Injecting Eritrea in the matter is an attempt to internationalize the conflict and use it as a pretext to impose their presence in the region.
Evidence of this is highlighted by their demands. For example, what was the High Representative of the European Union, appeal and demand in Ethiopia? Access. They want access. Possibly, preferably a peacekeeping operation to “protect civilians.”
“Almost four months into the conflict, 80% of the six million people are unreachable.” Josep Borrell
He then demanded full and unfettered access to provide humanitarian assistance. A diplomatic speaking, for humanitarian intervention.
Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, upon his return from a fact-finding mission in Ethiopia, also told journalists in Brussels,
“You have come to the situation which is militarily and humanitarian-wise very out of control.”
That means some outside force must come to assert control. However, Tigray was out of control of Ethiopian authorities when the region was controlled by the TPLF. The TPLF had gone rogue and daily goaded Ethiopia into starting a conflict in Tigray. Their agenda was to dismantle Ethiopia.
The TPLF prepared for war, trained a large number of troops, and eventually attacked Ethiopia’s Northern Command which accounted for 80% of Ethiopia’s military strength. That is what started the conflict. Had the outcome been what the TPLF wanted for Ethiopia and Eritrea, the region would have become another Congo.
The TPLF ruled Ethiopia for 27 years. According to various human rights groups including the Human Rights Watch, when TPLF ruled Ethiopia, the human rights violations in Ethiopia were atrocious. From 1997 until 2018, the HRW, US annual HR record, and others reported extrajudicial killings, ethnic cleansing, genocide, massive displacement of populations, wars, rape, mass imprisonment, corruption, embezzlement, and on and so forth.
The TPLF was flouting international law when it illegally occupied Eritrean territories, invaded Somalia, and stole elections that the European Union itself condemned. The TPLF consistently advertised that it was conducting regime change in Eritrea and waged numerous wars while the EU said nothing. The genocides in Gambella and the Ogaden are on the annual HRW records for all to see.
The TPLF aimed to destabilize the entire region so it could establish a nation out of territories it carved from Ethiopia and Eritrea. For the TPLF, the end justifies the means. The TPLF was willing to do what it took no matter how gross or how heinous. Lies, stealing, killing, embezzlement, terrorism, and harassment were and remain their primary ammo.
It is, therefore, disturbing to the people of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the region who experienced the belligerence and mass atrocities in the hands of the TPLF to witness the European Union trying to resuscitate a criminal minority group from the graves against their will. The European Union is trying to whitewash the gross crimes against humanity the TPLF committed, pressuring Ethiopia to stop hostilities and start negotiations with the TPLF.
The TPLF was destroyed in 17 days in a law enforcement operation the Ethiopian government conducted. It is nonexistent. The only thing that remains of the TPLF is vocal-extremely vicious supporters abroad, members of the TPLF in the Diaspora, families, and supporters of the leaders. These are the people who benefited for decades. They have a lot of money that they embezzled from Ethiopia and they are making good use of it by buying western activists, lobbying institutions, and governments around the world.
The European Union and the US trying to establish a presence in the region in support of the TPLF is tantamount to working with the NAZI’s to control the territory of a European nation during WWII.
The Europeans have for long banked on the division of Africa to take advantage of Africa’s human and material resources. No more. Europe and the US can only benefit from Africa in cooperation with the African countries.
For the first time in their history, the people and governments of Eritrea, Ethiopia, and the region have agreed to make peace. And they are hoping for a bright future based on respect and cooperation to coexist and work for mutual benefit. The people of Eritrea and Ethiopia have been campaigning together against these agendas. In effect telling the European Union and the US to back off, it is our issue and you have no place in it. The people of Eritrea and Ethiopia are taking this as a major cause and challenging the US and EU’s fabrications, exaggeration and agendas with facts. They are ferociously exposing their malicious attempts. The people of Eritrea and Ethiopia have removed the cancer of the region and see a hopeful future on the horizon. They are determined to hold on to the dream and control their destiny no matter what it takes. There is nothing Europe can do about it. It is a new beginning.
Amanuel Biedemariam is Author the History of The USA in Eritrea. He could be reached at : firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter : @Amanbiede