TPLF ‘marshal law’: Lessons for US

12 Oct

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

At its Daily Press Briefing from Washington D.C., the State Department warned the TPLF regime about implications of the state of emergency it imposed last Sunday in Ethiopia.

While the US has welcomed the government’s promise “to address some of the grievances raised by protesters such as land rights and electoral reform”, it also underlined, “silencing independent voices and interfering with the rights of Ethiopians is a self-defeating tactic” that could worsen the situation.”

My instant reaction to the statement by the State was to interpret in words the image of the TPLF falling from grace in my mind’s eye. The United States could not stand by its ally, the TPLF. The Front has proved recalcitrant and unsure of its role and what it wants – a difficult ally that cannot listen to anyone, or value good advices it has been offered thus far.

I felt it clearly was time for me to fire my tweet on the matter:

What this means is that the United States has started to make it clear it is compelled to give its back to the TPLF. This thinking has conjured up another image in the mind of anyone that has closely followed the relations between the deceitful TPLF and a superpower that has vowed to crush terrorism and extremism in the Horn of Africa.

I recall the words of Barack Obama inside Emperor Haile Selassie’s National Palace in Addis Abeba in the afternoon of July 27 during a press conference. At one point during the Q&A, the president remarked:

“Well, on the first issue, this was part of our conversation both with respect to security, but also with respect to good governance and human rights issues. Our policy is that we oppose terrorism wherever it may occur. And we are opposed to any group that is promoting the violent overthrow of a government, including the government of Ethiopia, that has been democratically elected.”

Ask me if I thought there was any Ethiopian who was not horrified by that remark, especially the adjective “democratically elected”. It sounded like an imprimatur for which I would probably put the number of supporters in a country of over 100 million population as high as 3 to 4 percent.

Then at the National Palace in Addis Abeba that July afternoon followed a compliment by the president of the only living superpower on our planet: “The Ethiopians are tough fighters … because they recognize the importance of stabilizing the region.”

When the clientele’s knees buckled, already by August 2016 the US had begun to take care of its security interests and needs in the Horn. It was refurbishing the existing coalition of East African nations, with its center at Nairobi. On August 22, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry hinted something with fewer words:

“And I think we all were agreed, and I know that both the Somali, I know that Kenya, and I believe the Ethiopians are prepared (emphasis added) to work with the United States in order to put greater pressure on al-Shabaab in the meantime.”

Thinking of those words, in the wee hours of October 11, 2016, my fingers released from my keyboard yet another tweet:


When things were not going well in Somalia, who could not pick up the clue from the frustration of US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall, who on August 1, 2016 criticized the trigger happy role of the TPLF soldiers in Somalia. She put the blame where it should point out the “alleged abuses by the Ethiopian military in Somalia elevated al-Shabaab by allowing the group to tout itself as defender of the faithful.”

That is the TPLF! Now its notoriety has turned inwards, as if a foreign foe destablizing Ethiopia. In fact, at the end of her tour in Addis Abeba last August, US Ambassador Patricia Haslach was open in her criticism of the Addis Abeba regime in a manner that confirms its irresponsible behavior:

“While I leave here feeling proud of the work we’ve done. I am also worried by recent developments, which have the potential to threaten the progress that the people and government of Ethiopia have made. I know there is a great deal of fear and frustration in Ethiopia, including among our diverse and talented staff. I can tell you that we continue to engage with the government of Ethiopia, urging its officials at all levels to uphold Ethiopia’s constitutional guarantees of democratic government and respect for human rights and the rule of law.”

It is no surprise, therefore, that in today’s response to a question by a journalist about Ethiopia’s state of emergency, State Department spokesman John Kirby had to state:

    “We encourage the Ethiopian Government to clarify how it intends to implement the state of emergency that was declared this weekend, particularly regarding the emergency measures that authorized detention without a warrant, limitations on free speech, prohibitions on public gatherings, and impositions of curfews.”

In spite of this encouraging attitude, the United States also needs to understand that Ethiopia is a nation in pain and anger.

Such is the cruelty of the regime that it continues to kill unarmed youth demanding freedom, democracy and justice, against Ethiopia’s tradition the killing of mourners at funerals is in an uptick.

Living Ethiopia’s youths are in great distress. Those that are not yet killed or outside prisons have gone underground in forests. What could be more cruel than the TPLF-imposed security needs of our citizens drive them into hiding from family, school and friends – just to remain hungry but alive?

The United States has propped up this regime. It must now listen to the people of Ethiopia and, with least cost in lives, help them roll away its client from the Ethiopian political scene.

The best course of action for the United States and its allies is to force international investigations to dig out the TPLF’s crimes against humanity in Ethiopia.

It would serve as a good lesson in our region, at a time when the epidemic of strongmen of power are once again suffering from their deep-seated desire to remain in power for ever and ever, i.e., against the will of the peoples of the continent.

Meantime, irrespective of the clientele, the US would do better if it stops its heavy reliance on strongmen. The people are more reliable.

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