Foreign analysts ask top TPLF leaders to surrender
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed celebrated peace with Eritrea—for which he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019—pressured the TPLF to surrender to Eritrea territory that Ethiopia, under TPLF rule, had illegally annexed.
The TPLF had refused to surrender that territory for almost two decades, creating a tempestuous “no peace, no war” situation throughout the Horn of Africa that fueled destructive proxy conflicts.
Despite Abiy’s peace agreement with Eritrea, the TPLF refused to demilitarize the contested border or pull its troops back onto Ethiopian soil.
In the early hours of Nov. 4, 2020, the TPLF launched a simultaneous sneak attack on five federal military bases (known as the Northern Command) in Tigray. On television, TPLF leaders admitted to the “preemptive strike,” boasting of killing all the former comrades-in-arms who had resisted their takeover.
Days later, on Nov. 9, 2020, a TPLF-aligned militia carried out a systematic ethnic cleansing of hundreds of innocent Amhara civilians in the town of Mai Kadra. (Reuters reported that the TPLF appeared to have laid the groundwork for this slaughter in late October 2020, before the attacks on the military bases.)
The alliance between Ethiopia and Eritrea looks set to outlast the war. Washington has a critical national security interest at stake: first, in salvaging its reputation, and second, in ensuring that the partnership between Abiy and Isaias produces more prosperity and freedom for Eritrea and not more repression for Ethiopia. But if it doesn’t correct course, and quickly, Washington is likely to have no voice at all in forming whatever political dispensation is coming next.
Washington needs to subdue its nostalgia for the TPLF dictatorship and embrace, instead, Ethiopia’s transition into a fragile post-conflict democracy. It needs to stop blaming Abiy for the inevitable explosion of decades’ worth of pent-up ethnic animosities and acknowledge that some part of the immense devastation of this war is due to Washington’s own careless funding, and political backing, of an authoritarian regime.
The Ethiopian prime minister cannot, for example, agree to negotiate with the TPLF, which has been declared a terrorist group by the parliament; popular anger at the rebels is so inflamed that a compromise of that magnitude would significantly destabilize Abiy’s government.
Shortening the war and salvaging US reputation—is to call for the surrender of the TPLF leaders who planned and initiated the war.
Calling for the surrender of key TPLF leaders will help to reassure Ethiopians that the United States is not backing the insurgency or seeking the overthrow of the Ethiopian government.
If these TPLF leaders refuse to surrender in the interest of peace, the United States should apply sanctions. Unlike Abiy, the TPLF’s leaders have both assets and family overseas and would be vulnerable to pressure put on their fortunes. Sanctions would also send a firm message to anyone planning future insurgencies.
Full article: Biden’s One-Sided Support for the TPLF Can’t Achieve Peace in Ethiopia (foreignpolicy.com)
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