30 yrs as TPLF ‘freedom fighter’ & soldier in TPLF army, female brig-general appointed UN Abiye force deputy commander

8 Nov

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)


For those who have difficulties with the general’s English, they could follow what Brigadier General Zewdu Kiros Gebrekidan, deputy force commander of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), is trying to say in a foreign language whose knack has eluded her hereunder, courtesy of the United Nations.

“Women have the right to participate in all jobs,” according to Brigadier General Zewdu Kiros Gebrekidan, UNIFSA Deputy Force Commander.

In an interview with the UN News Centre about the role of women in UN peacekeeping, Brig-gen. Gebrekidan underlined the important role female soldiers play during peacekeeping missions, including their ability to better connect with children and women within affected the communities.

Regarding her appointment as deputy force commander, the TPLF Brig-Gen. Gebrekidan says:

“I felt happy on this appointment because participation of women in the military and United Nations peacekeeping missions is low. I got this opportunity in a high-level position, and I am required to perform at the highest level and fulfil the requirements of the job. I am so grateful for this opportunity.

“I have almost 30 years of experience in the military. I have led troops, from platoon leader, up to the level of army commander. This long chain of command gave me experience on how to lead the army, how to manage, how to build strategies, how to prepare for every military situation. A military career involves war and peace, and one has to know how to manage, how to lead, and how to prepare for any military scenario. In Ethiopia the army is composed of females and males, and I led both genders. One unit was composed of both female and male soldiers, and I led and treated them equally: both were given the same mission, or assigned to any mission. From the lower ranks up the ladder, they would build their capacity. I would encourage females in any situation or any duties they take on, to strongly perform and compete with the men.

“Women have the right to participate in all jobs,” according to Brigadier General Zewdu Kiros Gebrekidan, Deputy Force Commander for the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). In an interview with the UN News Centre about the role of women in UN peacekeeping, Ms. Gebrekidan also underlined the important role that female soldiers play during peacekeeping missions, including their ability to better connect with children and women within affected the communities.

“UNISFA has a lot of challenges. The main challenge is lack of political progress. This affects our mandate because we have no administration, no police; nothing on both sides of Abyei. There is no development on the political front. The second one is an operational matter, which has to do with logistics. Security is another challenge, because of unknown irregular armed groups that enter villages to attack and kill civilians. Weather conditions also pose another challenge. In dry seasons, it gets very hot, and in rainy seasons it gets very muddy, and there’s no movement. This restricted movement during rainy seasons affects our operational capacity. The other challenge is infrastructure; there is no main support road and the rainy season means closed roads. Only one main supply road remains functional, for the North (Sudan). There are many challenges in the Mission.”

Given Brig-Gen Z.K. Gebrekidan’s English language deficit, times have become a bit harsher. In the past, translators were employed in the African Union and United Nations operations. This time too in UNFISA, if the official is selected for some kind of skills, the United Nations Peacekeeping Department (DPKO) ought to hire for her English translator from Tigrigna – her Amharic too being less reliable.

If the general assured DPKO that she has good command of the English language and that she did not need a translator, it is a different story. Still this cannot stop me from wondering why the UN chose to trust her wards, instead of its ears.

It is possible she may have said that – like the all-powerful TPLF overlords in Ethiopia – civilian and military leaders! For them, ego is what they have been generously endowed with. The other assumption is she may have taken have her responsibilities for granted, as has the TPLF Ethiopians, having ruled it with a iron hand for the past quarter century. Fortunately, the TPLF may be now aware that that period is fast running out, thanks to the collective determination behind the #Ethiopiaprotests!

Did DPKO give in to such TPLF hypocrisy coming through a brigadier general, without any resistance? Surely, in the past the TPLF had its friends all over, at least until recently. The trouble now is that how could our general carry out her day to day responsibilities, including writing quick briefs, inputs to statements or memos to her superiors in New York? Her good fortune is that UNIFSA in the corridors is known as the “frozen conflict” in a landscape of terrible human sufferings, according to Security Council Report, prepared by a consortium of 25 nations, the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, Humanity United and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Certainly, anyone who has worked in management place recognizes that the top commander (although fellow Tigrayan) could someday give Brig-General Zewdu Gebrekidan, as his deputy, instruction to prepare him an urgent memo to headquarters on a mission that gobbles up nearly $300 million annually.

If we think in terms of the duties of the DPKO, it has several mandated activities to be carried out by four main offices. Gen. Gebrekidan may know a thing or two about military affairs and operations. However, how could she help her mission to effectively communicate with her supervisors, in respect of DPKOs other mandates such as: the office of rule of law and security institutions, policy evaluation and training.

Of interest here is that of the demand arising from the interim force’s performance in respect of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions, which the TPLF people have always despised in Ethiopia, consider it an enemy of their prolong stay in power! UNIFSA since 2011 has gotten a taste of that with being a mission with the second highest Ethiopian fatalities!

Unfortunately for the UN, this Rule of Law function in DPKP was established in 2007, with the express objective of strengthening “the links and [to] coordinate the Department’s activities in the areas of police, justice and corrections, mine action, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants and security sector reform.”

In terms of budgetary allocations, the UN General Assembly has approved $268, 624,000 for UNISFA for the period from 1 July to 30 June 2017, according to the UN Fifth Committee document recommending approval of the budget A/C.5/70/24. This huge sum was approved for a force strength of 4,778, of which the total uniformed personnel strength was 4,534; troops strength of 4,397 (266 female); military observers 129 (17 female); police 8 (2 female), civilian personnel 202, international civilians 130 and local civilians 72 and UN volunteers 29.

Incidentally, UNISAF was established in 2011 as an interim force, almost all the troops from the TPLF army. Unfortunately, the misnomer about it is that by the sign of things after its fifth year as a mission the ‘frozen conflict’ has required a permanent peacekeeping mission without announcement, while those paying its costs increasingly convinced it is becoming irrelevant.

The TPLF has made Ethiopia top troop contributing nation in the word. It has done this wanting to enjoy both the laurel coming from donors and the foreign exchange TPLF generals consider their booty. However, the sad fact is that the funds come in the name of individual soldiers and as payment earned from renting Ethiopia’s weapons and helicopters to the United Nations peacekeeping missions.

General Samora Yunus has reportedly told the former Finance Minister Sufian Ahmed to mind his own business, as far as this supposedly ‘national income’ from peacekeeping is concerned.

Ethiopia has lost altogether in peacekeeping missions 108 soldiers to fatalities, of which 19 were from UNIFSA.

Tigrai Online was the only Ethiopian media that has published the appointment of Brig-Gen Zewdu’s appointment, without any fanfare and the video – interestingly with as few adjectives as possible – a rare fit for TPLF propagandists and the hyperbolic page!


የኢትዮጵያ ኤኮኖሚ በምርትና በንግድ ዶላር መሳብ ሲሳነው፡ የሕወሃት ባለሥልጣኖች የተ.መ.ድ. ሰላም አስከባሪ ሥምሪቶችን ቢዝነስ አደረጉ ይባላል

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