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The Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF), Washington’s main proxy in the Horn of Africa Uses Five Month Truce to Rearm

September 13, 2022

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed with Chinese President Xi Jinping, April, 2019. photo credit: CGTN. Thir relationship especially irks Washington although it is no way “anti-American”; rather it is Ethiopian policy, in line with the emerging multi-polar world, to make economic and trade alliances with all those willing to cooperate with it, not on an ideological basis.

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Interestingly enough, U.S. policy towards Ethiopia has follow the general outline set out a half century ago, in 1972, by none other than Henry Kissinger, at the time the head of the National Security Council, a body known at the time as “the committee in charge with running the world” as Theodore M. Vestal wrote in “The Lion of Judah in the New World”.

In a confidential report cited by Vestal (but the actual document I could not find) Vestal goes on to claim that Kissinger “recommended that U.S. policy should be to keep the nation in perennial internal conflict, using such vulnerabilities as ethnic, religious and other divisions to destabilize the country.” Vestak goes on to comment, prophetically it turns out that “Kissinger’s recommendation  appears to have been followed successfully not only for Ethiopia but the Horn of Africa has been in turmoil ever since.. (p. 188)”\

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A friend returning recently from visiting family in Addis Ababa tells that the city is generally quiet and safe and that the proverbial “man on the street” is well aware of  the foreign entities that are behind the regime change effort. But now that quiet interlude appears to be over and fighting has started again between the Addis government and the break away TPLF dominated Tigray region. The TPLF is nothing more than Ethiopia’s version of the Nicaragua Contras – an organization bought and paid for by Washington to do its dirty work in the Horn of Africa and this it continues to do faithfully.

“After a fragile ceasefire lasting just five months, the TPLF (The Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front) have once again initiated violent conflict with federal forces in Northern Ethiopia”. Thus began a recent (September 3, 2022) by British researcher Graham Pebbles that appeared in the Eurasian Review in an article aptly titled “Renewed TPLF Terror War Against the Ethiopian People. Having been soundly defeated by the Ethiopian military in the first round, the TPLF cried uncle at that time, called for negotiations essentially to give it the breathing time to rearm rather than prepare for peace. While Washington has issued sanctions against arms sales to both the Ethiopian government and the TPLF, it has closed its eyes to surreptitious arms shipments to the TPLF through Sudan (and other channels). Egyptian support for the TPLF is also pronounced and is nothing new. “It has been known that it (Egypt) has been supporting proxy war in Ethiopia at least since the 1970s,” this according to an article in Borkena.

Missing from such reports – for whatever reason – is Washington’s role in managing the whole affair.

As in other parts of the world Washington works through proxies (using Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel in its war to bring down Syria; using Kiev government in its war against Russia, etc)  in its efforts to control events and developments in the Horn of Africa. Such an approach gives Washington a convenient cover, “plausible deniability” to its overall management of  accelerated hybrid warfare against the Ethiopian government. But have no doubt that, as iconcers other above conflicts, the current attempt to bring the Ethiopian government to its knees, to bring the TPLF, back to power has “made in Washington DC” stamped all over it. Nor is this simply a project of the Biden Administration in which some of the Administration’s players – Anthony Blinken, Susan Rice, Robert Godec, Samantha Power, Linda Thomas-Greenfield’ – are deeply involved. Republican Administrations have been no better. For those who might have forgotten, former President Trump referred to the nations of Africa as a whole as “shit hole countries” and after failing to impose on Ethiopia an agreement which would have essentially denied Addis Ababa sovereignty over the Great Ethiopian Dam, in his frustration for failing to impose his will, he publicly called for Egypt to bomb the dam.

While it is possible to follow the trajectory of U.S. polices towards the Horn of Africa elsewhere – the commentaries of Black Alliance for Peace, Eugene Puryear, Canadian scholar Ann Fitz-Gerald among the more perceptive analysts – when it comes to understanding the evolution and twists and turns of U.S. policy in Ethiopia Al Mariam’s Commentaries  are among the most detailed and revealing. He follows the Congressional hearings and State Department statements carefully and has done so for years. Americans seriously wanting to learn what Washington is up to in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa in general can do far worse than checking into these sources, which taken together give a comprehensive picture of the extent of U.S. dark meddling and interference into Ethiopian affairs, tearing the mask off of the Biden Administration’s increasingly feeble efforts play the role of an impartial mediator. In a recent piece, Al Mariam Commentaries details the extent to which Washington’s meddling has tried to create “regime change” in Ethiopia, “regime change” being a modern less odious term, a kind of technical term, for overthrowing a foreign government that for whatever reason, “displeases” Washington.

Washington’s Hybrid Warfare Against Ethiopia Continues

What is sketched out is a full blown policy of hybrid warfare against the Abiy Ahmed government that includes:

1) economic warfare (by imposing sanctions, preventing World Bank and others to shut off loans to Ethiopia, etc.);

2) military support for the TPLF (imposing arms embargo on Ethiopia but covertly supplying arms and communications equipment to terrorist TPLF through Egypt, and by providing live battlefield satellite intelligence to the TPLF to attack Ethiopian forces, etc.

3) social support (by supporting terrorists groups, make-believe hate-mongering political parties and inciting rebellion throughout Ethiopia, etc., ie, using such groups to create the kind of havoc throughout the country that would bring down the Addis Ababa government

4) diplomatic warfare (jacking up Ethiopia before the UN Security Council and appointing a bogus human rights investigating commission, etc.)

5) political pressure (using their legislative and other institutions to impose punitive measures, etc.

6) propagandistically (mounting massive global campaigns of disinformation and demonization against Ethiopia using the Western press-titute media, etc.)

The False Cry of Genocide – a Pretext for Military intervention, Ethiopia’s version of Iraq’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction”.

The Biden Administration has engaged in a concentrated effort, supported by a pliant media, to turn the facts on their head in order to provide the pretext for a U.S. and/or U.S. orchestrated military intervention in the name of humanitarian intervention – the same pretext used to launch the war in Iraq in 2003, and the NATO led military invasion of Libya which overthrow the government of Muammar Khadaffi. In the current Ethiopian case, congressional hearings that took place in late Spring (May 2021) in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and weeks later in the House of Representatives (June, 2021) accused the Abiy Ahmed government of having pursued policies leading to starvation in Tigray and that systematic rape on the part of the government forces is rampant. Neither claim has been – or will be – independently substantiated and if anything, there is far more evidence surfacing that it is the TPLF that has committed war crimes on an expansive scale.

Leading the charge presenting such accusations is the assistant Secretary of State Bureau of African Affairs representative Robert Godec. On June 29, 2022 Godec told the House Foreign Relations Committee:

The Biden administration strongly believes that human rights abuses, violations and atrocities have been and are being committed in Tigray. And we have been deeply concerned about that for some time. The use of the specific terms genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity is a legal determination. We have had an expedited legal and fact-based review underway to make a determination on that. The final decision rests with the Secretary of State. I can’t give you a specific timeline. It is his decision to make. The expedited review is quite far along.

In the Senate hearing held a few weeks earlier Godec charged the Ethiopian government with “widespread and systematic targeting of women using gender-based violence in ways that are really quite horrific”

The Administration has been making these unsubstantiated charges for some time now – Ethiopian’s version of Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” – to bolster the pretext for military intervention. Denials from the Ethiopian government coupled by the lack of evidence for such practices have done nothing to stop their unending repetition. None of these claims have been verified.

Behind Washington’s Hostility to the Abiy Government

Therefore I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.

Lord Palmerston before the House of Commons, March 1, 1848

So it is with U.S. foreign policy today.

Interestingly enough, U.S. policy towards Ethiopia has follow the general outline set out a half century ago, in 1972, by none other than Henry Kissinger, at the time the head of the National Security Council, a body known at the time as “the committee in charge with running the world” as Theodore M. Vestal wrote in “The Lion of Judah in the New World”.  In a confidential report cited by Vestal (but the actual document I could not find) Vestal goes on to claim that Kissinger “recommended that U.S. policy should be to keep the nation in perennial internal conflict, using such vulnerabilities as ethnic, religious and other divisions to destabilize the country.” Vestak goes on to comment, prophetically it turns out that “Kissinger’s recommendation  appears to have been followed successfully not only for Ethiopia but the Horn of Africa has been in turmoil ever since..” (p.188)

Although some of the details have changed, Washington has, until today, followed Kissinger’s formula for relations with Ethiopia to a “t”. The policy parallels those of other regions – to the degree possible limit regional coordination, fracture and fragment, break up the emerging regional engines into smaller “more manageable” pieces as was done to Yugoslavia in the 1990s in order to weaken challenges to U.S. hegemony often the false canard of “minority” and/or “ethnic” rights, All this is hidden behind a veil of humanitarian concern, a pretext for intervention. Partition is the goal be it for China, Russia, or in the Global South, Ethiopia and somewhere in the files of the U.S. government there is a RAND Corporation report or a National Security Agency report like Kissinger’s detailing the steps to accomplish this nefarious goal as incredible as it might sound.

Fracturing Ethiopian-Eritrean Solidarity and undermining the growing Chinese economic ties with Africa

Given that for decades since World War II, Ethiopia was considered one of Washington’s most stable allies – an alliance built carefully and over long years by the former Emperor Haile Selassie – Washington’s volte face with Ethiopia fast entering the category of an adversary caught many by surprise. This surprise was only magnified after Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed received the Nobel Peace Prize for helping craft a peace with Eritrea that ended a long and costly border war. Ultimately that gesture triggered negative reactions in Washington as it ended the decades long isolation that Eritrea had experienced. Eritrea is the only country in Africa to reject both World Bank structural adjustment loans as well as participation in the U.S. led military formation AFRICOM. Fracturing the growing solidarity between Ethiopia and Eritrea is one of Washington’s primary goals. In a region tired of decades of war Ethiopian-Eritrean reconciliation was the first step in a broader policy of regional reconciliation and cooperation that included – or was meant to include – Djibouti, Sudan and Southern Sudan, Somala as well as Kenya and Uganda. Abiy might have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this but he and his administration also earned Washington’s wrath.

As much – perhaps more than any other factor in Washington’s hostility has been undoubtedly Ethiopia’s continued improved trade and commercial relations with China which has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade and has included manufacturing project,s aid to building Ethiopia’s development jewel, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the building, refurbishing and improving an old railroad line from Addis Ababa to the coast through Djibouti. At a time when the global architecture is shifting from a U.S. dominated unipolar to a more multipolar oriented global economy more and more Washington is pushing many countries in the Global South, including Ethiopia, to chose between closer relations with Washington or with China, a choice which few actually want to make. Ethiopia prefers to have good relations with both sides in the emerging new cold War.

There is another factor which over the past year I have noticed seems to worry Washington: the growing trend toward overall regional integration in the Horn of Africa of which Ethiopia is probably the central engine. As regional integration proceeds apace – and it does despite all the problems both internal and external that Ethiopia and the region at large face – Washington – along with Egypt, some of the Arab States – worries that as Ethiopia becomes a regional power in its own right its dependence on U.S. aid and political support will diminish and it will become more of an independent force looking out for its own national interest and making alliances and trade deals to best suit those interests. No doubt there is momentum in this direction but it is not even vaguely “anti-American” as much as it is “pro-Ethiopian”. For the moment Washington cannot seem to adjust to the emerging global architecture, realities, stuck in its past glory days, fast fading despite all efforts to reverse it.

The U.S. Instigates Conflict in the Horn of Africa | Black Agenda Report

One Comment leave one →
  1. tim mccarthy permalink
    September 19, 2022 4:29 pm

    Very good, Rob.

    thanks

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