I am not celebrating the news of the “indefinite humanitarian truce” because I don’t see any tangible progress except a repeat of a game that has been played before. I wonder why so many are celebrating and why they keep falling for this game again and again.
For Abiy, there is nothing sacrosanct. Everything is a tool for winning. He has lied big time, broken promises, deceived, and played games. Let’s highlight some examples.
On July 29, 2020, Abiy Ahmed had an interview (starts 58:20) with Fana TV’s Tigrinya program where he emphatically asserted that he had no plans of war with Tigray. About his government collaborating with Eritrea to attack Tigray, he said the following:
And yet, it did happen. The goal of that interview was to thwart preparation on the part of Tigray and to catch it off-guard.
On the 30th of November 2020, after the onset of the war on Tigray, Abiy Ahmed claimed that not a single civilian was killed in Tigray. This was after tens of thousands had been killed, many massacres committed and Eritrean troops had committed grisly atrocities including the well-documented Aksum Massacre and Mariam Dengelat Massacre.
On the 10th of December 2020 at a UN presser, a Reuter’s journalist asked United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, if the UN had seen any evidence of Eritrean troops fighting in Ethiopia? (Question starts at minute mark 26:00). António Guterres answered as follows:
Of course, the Eritrean government and troops were involved from planning to execution, when the SG relayed these assurances. A few weeks after this international human rights organizations and the media would start reporting in great detail on the crimes they had already committed [HRW, AI CNN] by this time. Meanwhile, Abiy continued to deny Eritrean presence until March 2021, when he made an abrupt U-turn and announced he and the Eritrean dictator Isaias Afewerki had agreed for Eritrean troops to withdraw from the “Ethiopian border”. In response to that, on March 27, 2021, I wrote:
In the article above, I also attempted to highlight the big lies until the end of March 2021. Abiy had lied and promoted deception more times than one can even keep count since that time.
On June 23, Abiy had a lengthy interview which was broadcast on state media outlets. Asked about Ethiopia’s challenges by the journalist, [see from minute mark 21:41] he likens winning the war on Tigray to winning a football game by any means including by breaking the rules, in front of the referee if necessary but preferably without being seen.
On the 29th of June 2021 following the recapture of Mekelle by Tigrayan forces, Abiy declared a “unilateral cease-fire … on humanitarian grounds so that desperately needed aid can be delivered”. Many celebrated. But, the genocide only became deadlier. In reality, it was the start of a shutdown of all services and an imposition of a deadly blockade on Tigray that is still in place.
Since July, Abiy has made many promises and headlines by promising humanitarian access and sometimes allowing one or two trucks as a public relations stunt. Many organizations celebrate that and news headlines are made. But his regime goes on to fully reassert the blockade until yet another round of promises and/or token trucks.
A week ago, the regime said 20 trucks with food and 3 with fuel started moving to Mekelle. They are nowhere to be found. But the congratulatory messages and headlines had already been broadcast and as far as Abiy is concerned that is all that matters. Many celebrated and reported it, Abiy curried favor from the international community with just empty words. I don’t blame Abiy anymore. What can he do when everyone is desperately waiting to be willingly deceived?
This week, Abiy recycled his words from June 2021 replacing ceasefire with a truce and many are celebrating, once more. I wonder what they are celebrating. Don’t they get tired of being deceived? Why the need to continually celebrate empty promises when the situation in Tigray gets only deadlier and half a million civilians have already perished?
Abiy and his allies (Eritrea, Amhara, and Afar) know that an extension of the blockade even by a day is additional time to execute their genocide policy in Tigray. Utilizing Eritrea’s experience in dealing with the short-memory of the international community, and Abiy’s new methods of deception they have successfully taken advantage of the reality that the international community is not only an ineffective “referee” that does nothing when a foul is committed but is also easily manipulatable and gullible. They have therefore come up with a division of labor to continue the Tigray Genocide: for Abiy to change language and ease international pressure and for Eritrea, Amhara, and Afar to continue enforcing the blockade. One only needs to listen to what the heads of state of Afar and Amhara are saying to see the division of labor. The humanitarian truce is no doubt an attempt to curry international favor while continuing the genocide.
If the Abiy regime is genuine about easing the suffering of civilians in Tigray, it can immediately restore services (internet & phone lines, and banking) which can save millions of lives and also allow humanitarian aid through ground and air transport via all routes. It should also tell Eritrea and Amhara to withdraw their invading forces from the constitutional borders of Tigray.
The international community has failed its responsibility in Tigray and it continues to do worse. If it wants to help Tigrayans, it needs to at least measure progress by practical progress in terms of alleviating the catastrophic humanitarian conditions in Tigray decimating Tigrayans.