As the war in Tigray intensifies on all fronts, the international community (IC)
As the war in Tigray intensifies on all fronts, the international community (IC), particularly the US, has come up with a series of statements calling for the war to end immediately. The UN and even the AU have called for the cessation of hostilities and the resumption of talks. WIth respect to the US, it is notable that the US Congress has started to be vocal. Both Chairmen of Foreign Relations Committees of the US Congress and House of Representatives have not only condemned the Eritrean invasion, but have also called for, among other actions, the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray. So, what are we to make of these latest statements? Most of the statements are recycled versions of previous statements by the same organs. However, the statement from Bob Menendez, the Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committte, appears to be strong and, most importantly, threatens action if the US calls are not heeded. This is probably the first time in months that we are hearing about the prospects of real action from the US government.
Meanwhile, the situation on the ground in Tigray is worsening alarmingly, with tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed by drones, aircraft, and artillery shelling. Many more have been displaced. Militarily, despite false claims that major towns, such as Shire and Alamata have been seized, the TDF have held their ground. However, there is no denying that the TDF is under tremendous pressure because of the overwhelming enemy numbers and the advantage the enemies have as they control the Tigray airspace. As a result, some in the Abiy camp are already claiming that the end to the Tigray resistance is around the corner. In my view, such false hopes have no basis in reality. Here is why:
Let me start from the worst scenario and assume that, God forbid, Abiy and Issayas, manage to reoccupy Tigray towns (there is no way they can control the countryside) as they did before. What will happen naturally is that the people of Tigray will definitely revert to guerrilla war, which means that Tigray will be ungovernable. I find it incredible that Abiy still believes that all will be fine if the TDF withdraws from towns. Reason: This is a war that is being waged by the people of Tigray, not just the TPLF. History teaches us that it is impossible to rule people without their will, no matter how powerful you are militarily. If only they can learn from the recent past, Tigray remained defiant and rose up and chased the enemies out last time they occupied Tigray. Further, given the unspeakable atrocities they committed during their brief occupation, it is totally unreasonable to think that the enemies will be greeted with open arms now. Also, do not forget that even Abiy himself had admitted that the people of Tigray fought his forces and had to retreat to places where people would support his troops - obviously referring to the Amhara region. So, what makes him think that the resolve of the people of Tigray will be broken this time? If anything, the resistance will be even more robust because the atrocities have increased.
The other scenario that I believe is more likely is that there will be a stalement, where both the TDF and the enemies can hardly make meaningful advances against the other. That appears to be case on the ground, with Issayas and Abiy making little advances after more than 50 days of deploying every force they have. In such a scenario, the enemies have a lot more to lose in terms of the extremely high cost of supporting hundreds of thousands of troops whose morale is in decline with each passing day. As we know, the war is exacting tremendous financial cost to the enemies, so it is not inconceivable that Abiy and Issayas may run out of money sooner than they think. It will also be a double whammy if the US or the EU follow up with their threats of sanctions.
One thing is also certain. In both scenarios, the siege and the humanitarian disaster in Tigray will worsen. The indiscriminate shelling and air strikes of civilians in towns and villages will continue and many more are likely to die. At the same time, thousands of conscripts from Eritrea and Ethiopia will continue to lose their lives. In short, it is a lose-lose situation for both sides.
For Tigray, there is only one option: Keep resisting this genocidal war whose aim is to wipe out the people of Tigray from the face of the earth. For the enemies, though, there are two options: Either stop this unwinnable war or risk being bankrupt and lose the lives of thousands of their youth senselessly. Bottom line: The clock is ticking and all is doom and gloom if nothing changes. Despite that, I still hope against hope that the IC will intervene and stop this war that has become the most brutal of our time.
The other sure thing is that hoping that Abiy and Issayas will win is a pipe dream. There is no historical precedent for a genocidal cabal winning a people’s fight for one’s rights and dignity.