TPLF’s Violation of The Humanitarian Truce
On the morning of August 24, 2022, Tigray people Liberation Front/TPLF launched an extensive offensive on Federal forces, flagrantly violating the humanitarian truce and reigniting another cycle of conflict. As was to be expected, the TPLF blamed the Federal Government for starting the conflict via its international media apologists. Its propaganda machinery has at the same time begun spreading this falsehood, whitewashing the evolving facts that led to such an unfortunate reality. Playing the victim is what the TPLF has long specialised at.
The party’s spokesperson started his vitriolic attacks on the ongoing peace process even before the outbreak of the conflict. In an attempt to undermine the peace efforts, he issued on 22nd August 2022 a denigrating article against the leadership of the African Union and the High Representative for the Horn of Africa, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo. Moreover, on August 23, a day before launching the assault, the Tigray Region’s president sent a hostile letter to different foreign dignitaries, threatening that it would launch a war if its demands were not met, which points in the direction the TPLF was heading.
As was repeatedly made clear in the previous edition of The Brief, the TPLF has been mobilising, conscripting, and training the region’s youth to finally launch this offensive. This long-planned undertaking could not pass unnoticed by those who care to see the conflict resolved peacefully.
On the same day of TPLF’s offensive, UN Spokesperson condemned Tigrayan forces who forcefully entered the World Food Program/WFP warehouse in Mekelle and took 12 fuel truck tankers with 570,000 litres of fuel which should have been used exclusively for humanitarian purposes to distribute food, fertilizers, and other lifesaving items. This demonstrates TPLF’s brazen disregard for the lives of communities in their Region who are entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance. The international community should not look away from this crime but must call it for what it is and hold the TPLF to account.
The Government of Ethiopia still believes in the peaceful resolution of the conflict and has urged the TPLF to desist from its old-fashioned tactic of achieving political goals by sacrificing civilians. Such tactics cannot work in the current context for Ethiopians have had enough of the TPLF’s ruthless totalitarianism. The conflict brings nothing apart from perpetuating the ongoing suffering of civilians in all conflict-affected regions. The international community must join the government of Ethiopia in urging the TPLF to cease its senseless war and resume the peace process.
The ongoing peace efforts under the auspices of the African Union must be conducted without preconditions, and the international community must support the African Union in leading the facilitation process and denounce TPLF’s intimidation of the AU Officials.
It is to be recalled from our previous editions that the Government of Ethiopia took several confidence-building measures to resolve the conflict in the Tigray region, including declaring an indefinite humanitarian truce on March 24, 2022, and allowing unfettered humanitarian access to the Tigray region. The Government also bolstered the humanitarian flow into the Tigray Region in the past several months by allowing more fuel and cash. Many in the international community including UN agencies have corroborated these well-known facts.
Moreover, on July 12, 2022, entirely devoted to peace, the Government established a High-level Peace Committee, led by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, to resolve the conflict through peaceful negotiations. Conversely, the TPLF refused to organise a negotiating team but continued to list preconditions before agreeing to any peace efforts.
TPLF presented the restoration of services as a precondition to starting peace talks while knowing such undertakings require peace. The Government had made it clear in previous engagements with partners that it was ready to restore basic services in the Tigray region and adjacent Amhara and Afar regions provided that the necessary security and safety measures and regulatory and administrative arrangements are made between the parties after a ceasefire. H.E. President Olusegun Obasanjo, the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, has been well placed to facilitate the same.
Notwithstanding such commitments on the part of the Federal Government, the TPLF repeatedly failed to reciprocate the offer, but rather intensified its belligerent rhetoric. Its hostility got even worse after the announcement by the Peace Committee on August 17, 2022, of additional steps towards peace, including readiness to sign a permanent ceasefire, which would have paved the way for the commencement of peaceful negotiations.
On the very same day as the announcement of the additional steps by the Peace Committee, the TPLF started disseminating false information mendaciously alleging that it was attacked and that the unilateral humanitarian truce was violated. The TPLF once again restarted its offensive against Federal troops’ positions on the eastern fronts of Bisober, Zobel and Tekulesh on 24th August 2022.
TPLF’s cry of being attacked by the Federal Government is an expected propaganda stunt. There is no rationale for the Government of Ethiopia to start a new round of Conflict while taking several confidence-building measures to peacefully conclude the conflict. It appears that the Government’s additional steps for a peaceful settlement of the conflict sent a shockwave to the entire TPLF leadership, for they could stand no chance in the absence of conflicts, hence they restarted the conflict. The rapid blame-shifting after launching the offensive themselves and the intensification of a negative campaign against the peace effort clearly exposes the truth as to who would want to perpetuate the conflict.
TPLF’s vicious attack on the northern command of the Ethiopian National Defence Force in November 2020, despite repeated pleas by elders, mothers, and religious leaders shows the party’s disdain for peace and its dismal track record in civilised political dialogue. A party that has an iota of interest in peace would not militarise the entire Region. Yet, the TPLF has been mobilizing in mass and conscripting young children while threatening those who stand against this madness with severe consequences. It uses draconian punishments including denying humanitarian aid to those who do not support the war efforts – all of these are in the public record.
TPLF must stop its attacks, and hostile rhetoric and commit to peace talks under the auspices of the African Union without preconditions. The Federal Government is ready to agree on a negotiated ceasefire. The international community should denounce the TPLF’s bellicose behaviour and violation of the humanitarian truce as failing to do so would only embolden the terror group and impact those receiving aid. However, a blanket pressure on both sides cannot work as it would absolve the real culprit of the conflict – the TPLF. The Government of Ethiopia will remain committed to working with humanitarian partners to ensure that aid continues to reach those in need.
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