PM Abiy Ahmed told his national security council (NSC), “I repeatedly begged Isaias Afwerki to take the whole Tigray and give us the port of Assab. Now even without getting Assab, it is in our interest to wipe out the TPLF no matter what it takes, and hand Tigray to Eritrea.” , according to a partipant of a recent meeting of the NSC who spoke to a UMD Media source on condition of anonymity.
Biafra-like siege as inspiration
In the same meeting chaired by the PM, two papers on international experiences of dealing with the ‘Tigray-like problem’ were presented. One of the papers was on the case of the Biafra war in Nigeria. According to the New World Encyclopedia up to three million people may have died due to the war in the besiged Nigerian region, most from hunger and disease that followed an imposed blockade.
Government and ruling party medias in Ethiopia have refered to Tigray as the North Ethiopia Biafra and made parallels between what happened in Nigeria during the 1967-1970 war and blockade to what has happened and what they say should also be done in Tigray.
Ethiopian officials speak in the open how Biafra-like siege is done by design on Tigray. Tigrayan analysts mention how former Nigerian army general and President Olusegun Obasanjo who is now serving as the chief mediator of the African Union-led peace process being held in South Africa today might directly inspire Abiy Ahmed based on his role in the Biafra war. Obasanjo played a key role in the crushing of the Biafra fighters as he proudly wrote in his account of the war in a book entitled My Command where he said:
“Within a space of six months I turned a situation of low morale, desertion and distrust within my division and within the [Federal] Army into one of high morale, confidence, co-operation and success for my division and for the Army.”
His role was critical in Operation Finishing Touch and Operation Tail Wind including the control of key Uli airstrip through which Biafra was supplied.
In a phone conversation with UMD media, one Addis Ababa-based analyst who didn’t want to be mentioned by name asked, “who knows what Abiy Ahmed and Obasanjo talk in their regular Shiro meeting in the palace? I wouldn’t be surprised if the PM makes the old man narrate about his personal role in a war that is now over forty years old and takes notes of how that all fits with what should be done in Tigray “. The analyst added “Who is to blame the Tigrayans when they said no to taking him as a mediator. I have no clue why the African Union didn’t see Obasanjo’s role as a problem.”
The decimation of Tasmania as a model
The second paper presented at the national security clouncil meeting was by the Abiy Ahmed’s a social affairs advisor Daniel Kibret. Daniel Kibret presented the case of Tasmania in Australia. In the past, Daniel Kibret used the Tasmanian decimation where he said “only one person was left” as a model for dealing with Tigray in his public speeches. His other hate speeches are also well documented in some cased attracted international attention including a statement from the US State Department.
According to our source, the NSC meeting agreed that despite international pressures, the strategy to be followed will be informed by the lesson from the Biafra and Tasmania experience. The source added, the “talk of peace talks is just buying time and, if possible, to make the case for more funding from the like of World Bank and IMF, and get approved for debt restructuring and relief.
The meeting of the national security council was attended in addition to the members of the council by some regional state presidents, and individuals such as Dagnachew Assefa and political figures such as Andargachew Tsige who repeatedly appear on media to express their support for the war.
Dagnachew Assefa, a philosophy professor, is a close ally of the PM who expressed recently how he became a fan of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki.
Andargachew Tsige, a British citizen, urged Ethiopia soldiers last year to resort to “the most savage of cruelties” against the Tigrayans. He also called in 2021 for the burning of the American flag in front of US Embassy in Addis Ababa in reaction to what he called US intervention in Ethiopian affairs in relation to the Tigray war.