As a Tigrayan who has been following up the War and the politics underlying it, for the last four years, the peace deal and the difficult peace process that ensued has provided me with a sufficient reason to examine the usual ways we Tegaru have used through the years. I was highly skeptical of the peace deal because our experiences in the last two years are more than enough to distrust anything that appears to be a peace proposal. We have had several calls for peace and we have got used to them as smoke screens blown by the enemy to prepare for another war. What is planned on us does not change because it is engraved on a steel-tablet at the Arat-Kilo Palace. By way of changing the ways we do things, as opposed to how we habitually do the things we do, we can reduce or eliminate the adverse impacts the evil Plan will have on us.
However hard we try we cannot change the Plan because although the leadership, implementing the Plan, is located at Arat-Kilo the Plan belongs to elites and ordinary people of Ethiopia alike. They possess it and guard it jealously. What they are doing to Tegaru is not driven by a passing bad mood. Like untreated syphilis that is inherited from ancestors the “anti-Tigray” disease will be passed to future generations as well. With every return of the behavior of Tegaru back to business as usual, after every destruction inflicted on Tigray, the destruction will certainly happen to the next generation of Tegaru as well. ‘Anti-Tigrayanism’ and the Plan to eliminate Tegaru is a pervasive public ailment that is so chronic that it has no cure. Tegaru were at Arat-Kilo for three decades; but they were unable to cure it. Did they try? No they didn’t! To the contrary, they inadvertently increased its economic and military capacity to destroy the unsuspecting Tegaru leaders themselves and to destroy Tegaru at large.
Whatever methods or approaches we change to deal with this age old problem the golden formula for Tegaru must be never trust now and forever! The goal of the Tiger is to hunt, kill, and eat the antelope. However hard the antelope tries to be kind to the Tiger, and gazes at the Tiger with its beautiful eyes the Tiger is not impressed. So, either the antelope has to change its tactics to evade the attention of the Tiger or be able to escape from its attack. It is not the Tiger’s fault if the antelope stands in front of the Tiger and smiles at it with the hope of the Tiger letting the antelope free to go. Has any of our nice behaviors towards our killers, after every destruction they inflicted on us, worked? None of them! By nice behavior, we have been preparing them for the next harm on us because we don’t prepare ourselves to defend ourselves; but they do to attack us.
Our post-destruction bad behavior is not limited only to turning into being honest friends with our killers. We also help them more by destroying ourselves in the sense that we busy ourselves by degrading our future capacities to defend ourselves. Take for instance, how business people (merchants) in Tigray became more vicious enemies of the people than the killers, rapists, and the looters; how the good for nothings have been robbing city residents who are in misery locked from the world; how local administrators and party cadres have been harshly treating the people; and how corruption spread throughout Tigray in the middle of a siege. With such terrible double experience I am not optimistic that the people of Tigray will be ready for similar sacrifices they paid in the last two years, in the future.
Now I hear that the youth in Mekelle have resumed their drinking spree in the same way as the pre-war years. and how happy many people in Tigray have become while the dead millions are still fresh corpses. We took no time to hold national mourning for the dead, a lowered Tigray flag for a week, and wearing black for a month or so, showing the world that we are hurt a lot. With this irresponsible mood who in Tigray is going to stand firm to demand justice for the dead
and for the raped? Who would be psychologically prepared for the next ineveitable attack on Tegaru when opportunities arise to do so? As a bit of compensation I was very happy when the Tigray Orthodox Church stood firm in its decision to distance itself from the genocidal counterpart in Addis Ababa. This should give Tegaru a great deal of hope because nations are built around religious institutions. This decision of the Tigray Orthodox Church can serve as a rallying pillar for the Tigray Nationhood.
I still believe that even a quarter of the peace deal is useful for us, although we know the remaining three-quarter is full of political dirt. Although we deserve all of it because they did not bring us to the negotiating table but we forced them into it, they are too many, but Tigray is alone. The loss we suffered is enormous. The destruction of physical and social infrastructure is replaceable; but the 800,000 to 1 million Tegaru we lost are not. These are not just six or seven digits. Each one of them are so dear to us, to their moms, to their dads, to their brothers and sisters, to their friends and neighbors. Our grief knows no bounds. When we ask ourselves why this was done on us, there is no logical answer to it. If they have no logical reason to destroy us now they will still continue to have no logical reason in the future too.
The only logical reason for our destruction lies in ourselves. Tigray and the enemy are using different kinds of weapons. Tigray is using virtue to its disadvantage and the enemy is using vice to its advantage. My personal observation on the post peace-deal period is that the Tigray side seems to be genuine about the implementation. As the Ethiopian and Eritrean side pose a huge number of obstacles, including rampant killings and looting in the areas the TDF withdrew on the basis of the agreement, there is little crippling propaganda in Tigrayan media that can counter the deliberate obstacles to the peace deal. The “Stop negative reporting” in the peace deal is taken seriously only by the Tigray side while the enemy side is engaged in a concerted campaign to destroy Tigrayan unity, moral, and fighting spirit. Whatever little benefit Tigray can get from the peace deal is being lost because of the apparent fatigue on the Tigray side. When virtue did not work Tegaru have become too weak to pick up vice. Tegaru have kept on speaking formally and carefully as per the “protocol” where no protocol exists.
It started with the Prime Minister who travelled to Araba Minch and told his eager supporters that his side won. None of the Tigray officials reacted to this destructive propaganda formally. The world of Machiavellian politics applauds what Abiy did, and laughs at the silence of Tigray officials. Many things happened from the enemy side that were not officially and strongly reacted to in the meantime. The next propaganda de-coup-grace on Tigray is still on going. Only a few talk about it but it is intended to effectively divide Tegaru right to the bottom. The news that Tigray leaders will join the PP government apparatus is not as simple and negligible as the news of a car accident without injury. This is the implementation of the anti-Tigray Plan in progress in the name of peace. Tigray leaders have nothing to hide from the people of Tigray who suffered so much with them and /or for them.
There has been a deleterious tradition among the Tigray leadership to neglect propaganda from the enemy side as ‘not deserving reaction’. Too proud to respond to ‘silly things’ or too foolish not to react to seemingly simple things but with significantly bad consequences? The news that Debretsion and Getachew will join the PP ministerial cabinet is news or views at big as Mount Everest. A news that implies back to square one for TPLF at Arat-Kilo cannot be neglected. If it is true then it can only be one of the two: a tactic for Tigray leaders to follow up the peace process and the future of Tigray in person at Arat-Kilo rather than by the ineffective remote control from Mekelle. This can be reluctantly acceptable if only if Tigray leaders at Arat-Kilo are empowered
enough to do their job for Tigray. I personally think this is no less than a miracle if it happens for real. Following my instincts, I don’t think this can happen.
The second possibility is Tigray leaders will move to Arat-Kilo and melt in the pot forever leaving Tigray to the manipulation by PP, Amhara and Eritrea. Tigray leaders at Arat-Kilo would be obliged to help genociders to go stark free or face the consequences of refusal. It is time for Tigray leaders to tell Tegaru what their intentions are. Tigray leaders cannot be on their own any more. The people of Tigray have paid too much and have the right to decide about the status or the future of the leaders. The longer the delay with providing information the greater will be the feeling of being betrayed and the division among the people.
Sticking to the rules, Tigray is still not responding fully to Birhau Jula’s strange statement to ISAT. The host is a notorious anti-Tigrayan. I don’t really understand why the chief of staff preferred to be hosted by this genocidal media if he is serious about the peace deal. Is he wrong? He is not! The peace deal for him is not about peace deal it is about continuing the war by less costly means. It is for Tegaru the peace deal has become a peace deal not as a change of means to move to our ultimate goal. We seem to be forgetting and saying some silly stories that Birhanu Jula is kind and sympathetic to Tegaru. Is he? Some Tegaru wanted to free Birhanu Jula from blame for what he said in the interview by attributing his outrageous revelations as put on his lips by other PP officials. Birhanu is doing his job; we are not!
Birhanu Jula accused Seyoum Mesfin (RIP) for pushing for the Tigray War. God have mercy on Birhanu Jula! Who opposed the War as much as Seyoum Mesfin did? He warned that if war is starts in Tigray it could engulf the region. Seye Abraha warned Ethiopians too about the War early enough. Birhanu Jula is on a serious mission on Esat. He is appeasing the living TPLF leaders and putting the blame on a dead man who cannot defend himself. By so doing he is trying to comfort TPLF leaders leading them tactically (or with hidden coercion) to partner with him against the human rights commission. With the peace deal as a convenient pause in the war Ethiopia, Amhara, and Eritrea are doing a better job than they could have done if the fighting had continued. Tigray is absolutely loyal to the peace deal, sitting and waiting for Arat-Kilo to do its side of the implementation quickly enough. Arat-Kilo and Adi-Halo will do their best to procrastinate and even deny the items in the agreement by systematically diminishing the bargaining power of Tigray in the implementation of the peace deal. I am entitled to my opinion to believe that none of the monitoring team, USA, and AU would hesitate to make Tigray a sacrificial lamb.
We accept the peace deal because life has to continue for some length of time. BUT HOW? Life continued after Woyane with so many people lost. Life continued after the Derg with the loss of 60,000 lives and 100,000 disabilities. Our losses have increased ten-fold this time. What next? Another ten-fold means Tigray will be wiped out from the face of the Earth. The most critical question is why are our sufferings repeating and our losses rising at a geometric rate? The answer is very simple: THERE IS SOMETHING WE ARE UNABLE TO CHANGE! We attributed the failure of the first Woyane to the absence of a political party to lead the people. TPLF was founded with this in mind. The party achieved what the first Woyane fell short of accomplishing. Was the second Woyane an everlasting success? Far from it! The victory of the second Woyane could not exceed three decades. The subsequent or the consequent two-year Tigray War has plunged Tigray down to the level of the Stone Age.
TPLF and politicians of Tigray were convinced that the solution to Ethiopia’s problems lies at the core of the solution to the problems of Tigray. So the best brains of Tigray sat at Arat Kilo “solving” the problem of Tigray by solving the problem of Ethiopia! The political leaders of Tigray
lived in a paradox. The armed struggle started in Tigray because the problems of Tigray were unique and can be solved by focusing on Tigray alone. In a fatal denial the problems of Tigray became similar to the problems of any other part of Ethiopia. That was why Tigray was left to go on its own without full attention from its sons and daughters in Addis Ababa who claim to have fought to solve its unique problems. The irony was why the struggle to solve the problems of Ethiopia should happen in Tigray, devour the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Tegaru, and be told to go to hell after thirty years.
No one is grateful to Tigray for saving Ethiopia from the Derg after paying so much of sacrifices. Ethiopians even considered the TPLF years as years darker than that of the Derg’s. Tegaru have been unable to realize the terrible things they have been doing to themselves. The particular philosophy that the Tigray elite holds dear has been having a boomerang effect on Tigray. The stubborn Tegaru are still lamenting about the thankless Ethiopians for what TPLF did to build a robust economy and a strong defense capability. What is that we Tegaru could not understand while it is a commonsense knowledge for the rest of Ethiopia? Why are our sweets turning bitter and our loves turning into hates? Where is it we have gone wrong and everything we step on explodes? The answer lies in Tegaru’s long held philosophy of political life. The best way I can describe Tegaru’s philosophy of political life is that we are more deeply idealist than we are pragmatist.
Let me elaborate the two concepts. Idealism emphasizes on theories, principles, morals, virtues, righteousness, and the universality of justice; whereas, in pragmatism the focus is on results, straightforward practicality, and dealing with problems in a way that beneficial outcomes are achieved. No doubts, in being pragmatist some of the pillars of our moral values may be compromised. However painful this may seem to be we are obliged to play by the rules of the universal political game. When your opponent is pointing a gun at you it is silly to point back the Cross at him. When someone is collaborating with his own arch enemy to kill you it is self-destructive to waste your time and energy wondering and cursing why your enemy is collaborating with his own enemy against you.
Tegaru were disgusted when Oromos formed the Oromara alliance with their age old enemy. Why? Because they think that is not the ‘most heroic thing to do” or not the “most moralistic thing to do”. A typical Tigrayan would say: “Amhara have massacred their ancestors. Why would the Oromos forge such an alliance now?” The truth Tegaru did not get it right is that the enemy in 2018 (not in 1900) for the Oromos is TPLF. They cannot afford to have one old enemy and one new enemy at the same time because they think morality does not allow alliance with any one of the two. Did the Oromos succeed in their pragmatist approach? Yes they did! They neutralized TPLF, which they could never have done on their own without the collaboration of the Amhara. Did the Amhara continue to be friends of the Oromos? No they didn’t!
The Oromos have consolidated, thanks to their pragmatism of temporarily befriending the Amhara. Now the two former allies are at each other’s throat. The Amhara are crying foul; but who in Oromia cares? The Oromos have grown to be smart Machiavellians. Well, cheating in exams is not fair; but in politics it is the best modus operandi. Tegaru are unable to learn this lesson; they have become very poor students in this regard. Christianity has come in the direction of Tigray does not mean that Tegaru have to be monks and nuns when it comes to politics. They have to be the most notorious Machiavellian in the current Ethiopian politics if they don’t want to see another millions of their people dead and the very existence of Tigray threatened.
The idealism of Tegaru politicians have had several expressions. They wanted to be virtuous by building a defense force of Ethiopia having the right demographic ratio. They sent tens of
thousands of former Tegadelti into a life of poverty. Did Ethiopians thank them for that? They never did! Ethiopians saw not the number of Oromo or Amhara soldiers but the number of Tegaru generals. In spite of this, Tegaru politicians took the comfort of thinking for themselves that they are right and the rest of Ethiopians are wrong. They thought they were doing the right thing for its own sake! Aren’t they idealist fools? They definitely are! Tegaru politicians sitting tightly at Arat-Kilo were absolutely sure that Ethiopians love them, and would protect them, because they gave self-rule to the nations and nationalities. When the nations and nationalities, they expected to be grateful, took up arms and marched to Tigray to finish them off, while those Tegaru who were chased out of the Army (for balance) took up arms to save them, they learnt a very costly lesson that idealism is their biggest killer.
Aboy Sebhat was sitting in Addis Ababa when he argued on EthioForum that TPLF still stands for Eritrean independence even if Eritrean leaders hate to see that happen. In terms of universal morality and justice his point of argument is absolutely valid. Beyond the idealism that does not hold firm ground in Ethiopian politics he was putting all Tegaru in a very bad position as enemies of Ethiopia. How do you expect Ethiopians to think about your idealism of “Freedom for the people of Eritrea” when they are losing outlet to the sea and become the most populous landlocked state in the world? Tegaru politicians couldn’t even be the most mediocre of pragmatists. See what their theories, principles, moralities, and virtues did to Tigray. While they wanted to rule Ethiopia in peace and stability; they were protecting the interest of Eritrea against the strategic interest of Ethiopia.
That is not all. The naivety in politics among Tegaru politicians went too far in the sense that they worked hard to protect Ethiopia from Eritrean economic domination and then the Badme war! Who won the battle but lost the war? Tigray did! While Ethiopians and Eritreans continued to court each other behind the back of TPLF, Tegaru politicians were fighting among themselves on the issue of Eritrea and Ethiopia. In the year 2000 Tegaru politicians were fighting among themselves for moral supremacy to the advantage of their EPRDF partners who were waiting for this moment to end the TPLF (Tigray) domination. Did the EPRDF partners sympathize with TPLF as a brotherly party? No! This is politics! They preferred to be pragmatic and take the power for themselves than remain grateful to the TPLF for getting them to Arat Kilo in an armed escort.
Eritrean air force hit Ayder not Mercato! Ethiopian politicians were being trained and armed in Eritrea against the TPLF government in Addis Ababa. Tegaru politicians continued with their sweet dreams that ‘Eritreans are grateful to Tegaru for helping them out in Sahil’. They think their comradeship will be rewarded. Tegaru politicians considered Eritrean politicians as political nuns and monks as much as they are. They were convinced that “Eritreans are our brothers and sisters, and would never try to harm us in alliance the Amhara who are their mortal enemies”. Was it possible to pacify Eritreans for Tigray by solving the border problem in time and for good? No! Eritreans had a much bigger but ugly picture in their relations with Tigray. Eritrea did not like that Tigray is leading a federal system considered by the Eritrean government to be a bad example for Eritrea. Tigray frustrating Eritrean ambition in Ethiopia and the Horn is also among the many other reasons that turned Eritrean troops into beasts in the Tigray where their fellow Tigrigna speaking people live. So for Eritreans as much as other people pragmatism is preferred to idealism.
Why are the UAE, China, and Turkey supplying drones to Ethiopia although they know this action is an indirect participation in genocide? Ordinary Turks know how part of the money they use to buy cars, to go the Mosques and pray to Allah for blessing, comes from. The blood of innocent Tegaru is in every dollar earned in Turkey. These people live with this bitter truth regardless. I am not advocating for cruelty as pragmatism. I am reminding people how far pragmatism can go. I
limit my pragmatism to political maneuvering to safeguard your people as opposed to sheer idealism that compromises the long-term goals of the nation you represent. Now let me come to the current peace process between Tigray and Ethiopia and give some background to it in light of my idealism versus pragmatism thesis.
Many blame the TPLF for sticking to the fundamental principle of the constitution, stick to its democratic ideals of holding timely election, protect its pride and dignity as a founder of the Federation, and appeal to the Ethiopians and the world to rally behind the federal system which gave Ethiopians the right to self-determination. It was expected to be pragmatist enough to join the Prosperity Party and settle the extremely explosive political atmosphere peacefully although many of the ideals TPLF stood for may have been compromised. However much I favor pragmatism over idealism, to survive and thrive in this world of vice, I don’t share the idea of TPLF joining PP. The opposed it then; I oppose it now. We all know the Tigray War had much deeper and unavoidable roots than the pretexts of holding election and failure of TPLF to join the Prosperity Party. On the driver’s seat for the war, which brought the PP and Eritrea to its side was (is) the Amhara Imperial ambition that was not born in 2018.
I brought the argument in favor of pragmatism to serve us frame our side of the benefit we get from the peace process. Bygones are Bygones. We cannot undo the deleterious outcomes of our idealism in the past. We can only try to moderate their adverse impacts on our future decisions and actions. Now is what belongs to us, and we have to be very careful in handling it with care. Tigray cannot afford to repeat any more mistakes it has been making in the past. The most glaring of all mistakes Tigray did is in deciding who its enemies and who its friends are at any particular point in time.
If the idealism of honor is allowed to reign supreme at the cost of the reality of an inevitable doom the pragmatism of going for what is achievable is a wise tentative decision. This does not imply that your ultimate goal is abandoned. The peace deal is expected to be a one step back for a two steps forward. Tegaru have the right to be very angry at their leaders only if the peace deal is a dead end street not a change of lane. I applause the peace process only and only because I trust it is a way the tough gets going when the going gets tough. This does not mean the stubborn gets going; it means the flexible gets going.
Grasses grow into grasshood and trees grow into treehood. These are the end goals of these two natural phenomena. As they grow peacefully, busily producing their food by photosynthesis; a storm that does not care about them but its only goal is destruction, comes in their direction. They try to withstand but the storm becomes too overwhelming. Should they doggedly face the storm to the last and risk destruction because they are absolutely loyal to nature’s dictates that they have to stand erect all the time and grow tall? Who survives the storm? The grass or the tree? The tree will be uprooted because it remains rigid; whereas, the grass survives because it bends. Once the strong wind calms down the grass will stand erect because the grass did not allow the storm to apply its full force on it. Of course, bending has a cost. There could be some damage to plant tissues in the grass due to some impact of the storm. No pain, No gain. Focusing on the end goal is the most effective anesthesia that helps to endure painful transitions.
Pragmatism means maximizing your benefits but also tolerating serious losses. Of course, the losses should not be lost. If they are, the gains will be lost soon too! The losses are just shelved in order to join the gains at a later convenient date. This philosophy of advantageousness has been used over Tigray several times in history by the Amhara rulers. Wasn’t Menilik a pragmatist when he allied with Italy against his own Ethiopian king and conspired to kill him? Christian though he was didn’t Menilik confer with the Moslem fundamentalist Mahdists against Yohannes?
Didn’t Menilik cede Bahre Negash to Italians and his descendants used this former colony to devastate Tigray?
Lidetu could not hide his fury at what he perceived to be an alliance between Oromo politicians and Tigray seemingly embodied in the peace deal. He blamed Tegaru with harsh terminology for blaming the Amhara for what happened in Tigray and for not negatively mentioning the name of even a single Oromo in connection with the Tigray War. I considered Lidetu to be a rational man although I know the imperial virus is in his blood. We tolerated him and probably respected him, but he didn’t do the same in return. He decided to prove his loyalty to the Amhara imperialist cause in the wrong way by lashing out at Tegaru, threating to call names. He is right! He acted pragmatically by supporting Tigray first; and when the time came for him he became pragmatic again and abandoned Tigray in favor of the Amhara. Can Tegaru be like him? Switching at the right time? I know we have difficulties but no choice is left for us!
Lidetu did not hesitate even for a moment before he said “Tigray must ally with the Amhara against the Oromo politicians”. He considered us like big fools! In fact, that is how he knows us! We should not blame him; we must blame ourselves. That was what we taught Ethiopians about ourselves. Lidetu even dared to say “More Amhara spoke against the war in Tigray than Oromos.” He may tell millions of Tegaru, who had no idea who was saying what because they were in total communication darkness. However, he cannot tell me this because in the last two years, as long as I spent hours in front of the TV screen, what I heard and what I saw is Amhara scholars, Amhara officer, Amhara officials, Amhara archbishops, Amhara politicians, Amhara businessmen and women, Amhara activists, Amhara You tubers, Amhara diaspora, and Amhara media outlets were calling for genocide and the total destruction of Tigray.
The reason why so many panicked about the peace deal is because they never saw in their dreams that Tigray will go pragmatist shading its earlier idealism which the enemy camp was using against it. Although we have given and we are still giving too much for the peace deal to work, the enemy camp is trying its best to create or innovate propaganda apparatus to confuse Tigray into abandoning the peace deal. We are far from worshipping the peace deal. That was not what we died for. We are using it only to reduce if not eliminate the possibility of more death. The greatest success in the peace deal is that it created a lot of mess in the enemy camp. They had wrongly predicted that Tigray will die out adhering stubbornly to its old idealist ways. They were not prepared for this. The question is: Are we using the peace deal as a means or as an end? Trend in the last few weeks appears to be in favor of the latter. As a means-Pragmatic; as an end-Idealist.