Berhanu Nega’s poison pill strategy is an extremely risky gamble



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All signs point to Eritrean regime’s plan to march the Tigrean People Democratic Movement (TPDM) into Ethiopia. So far, there is no action by the Shabia-led forces on the ground except hyper propaganda. But by all indications, Shabia is ready for fight because it cannot just sit and watch as the country’s economy and military are depleted by the mass exodus of Eritrean youth and the U.N. sanction. The Eritrean regime (Shabia) has made enormous effort to build TPDM as a professional army for its plan to regain control of Ethiopia. Most of the money Shabia receives from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt for Ethiopian opposition groups go to TPDM, OLF and ONLF, while giving crumbs to EPPF and Ginbot 7. Shabia spends about $1 million dollar per year on Ginbot 7, but a very small amount of that money goes to train and arm Ginbot 7’s would-be fighters. Shabia’s $1 million annual budget for Ginbot 7 goes mostly to ESAT because Shabia wants Ginbot 7 to wage propaganda war — not to shoot real bullets at Woyanne. When I went to Eritrea in 2009, it didn’t take me long to figure out that Shabia would not allow the creation of a viable Ethiopian opposition force in Eritrea other than TPDM. I came to such a conclusion after private discussions with some Shabia leaders, including Isaias Afwerki. One Shabia officers told me up front to forget about EPPF and focus on Ethiopian Review. A few days later, Isaias Afwerki told me straightforwardly: “I know Ethiopia well. You can organize a rebel force in the mountains near Addis Ababa to attack and remove Woyanne. You don’t need Eritrea for that.” He blurted this out after we badgered him for several minutes about EPPF. He was visibly annoyed by our persistent question regarding why EPPF has only a handful of fighters after 10 years of existence while TPDM has several thousand fighters. I discussed my observation and what Isaias had said with Andargachew when I met him in Asmara 6 years ago. I also proposed to him an alternative, i.e., coordinate the civil resistance in Ethiopia, and use Eritrea only for providing shelter to those who escape from Woyanne security. Andargachew agreed with the civil resistance and economic boycott idea, but he was insistent that a well trained rebel army must first be created in Eritrea even if it does not engage Woyanne directly. Otherwise, he argued, other armed groups will hijack the civil resistance. He pursued his idea and labored hard for 6 years without success. Once Andargachew was removed from the scene, the remaining leadership in Ginbot 7 has been willing to go along with what Shabia wants. The plan is for TPDM leader Molla Asgedom to lead the military campaign under the direction of Shabia, while Ginbot 7 and ESAT wage a propaganda campaign, also under the direction of Shabia. The objective is to conduct guerrilla warfare on multiple fronts, make the country ungovernable by cutting off key highways and power lines, dry up fuel supply and hard currency, incite a popular rebellion through massive propaganda, and give the rebellion political direction in line with Shabia’s goal. Woyanne has its own plans, too. It will be impossible for Woyanne to invade the entire Eritrea if a full scale war breaks out. But Woyanne believes that it can easily capture Asmara within a week, install a puppet government, and call for IGAD and African Union forces to occupy the country, like Somalia. The best scenario for Ethiopia and the entire region is if Shabia and Woyanne destroy each other or both are annihilated by a wave of popular uprising. TPDM as a Trojan horse Shabia’s plan places TPDM leader Molla Asgedom in the role that was played by Meles Zenawi, but this time not to rule over Ethiopia as it is currently constituted, but to preside over the dismemberment of the country into several mini states. Dr Berhanu Nega is intended by Shabia to be the next Girma Woldegiorgis or Lencho Leta until the Balkanization of Ethiopia is completed. I met Molla Asgedom for the first time in 2009 at a restaurant in Asmara. He hates Woyanne with passion because of the discrimination and atrocities the people of Tembien are subjected to by the Adwa cabal in the Woyanne leadership. The rebel force he is leading, TPDM, is made up of thousands of disgruntled Tigreans like him. He once served as an officer in the Woyanne army and led his troops deep into Eritrea when Woyanne and Shabia fought in 1998. After Meles Zenawi abruptly stopped the war and conducted purges inside the TPLF, Molla defected to Eritrea. Molla’s mission now is simple – revenge. He seemed not much interested in anything else. Shabia’s number 1 enemy: Ethiopian patriotism Shabia believes that it was NOT defeated by Woyanne in the 1998 – 2000 war. Woyanne was able to rally patriotic Ethiopians to its side and easily over power Shabia forces. Had Meles Zenawi not stopped the war prematurely, there would not have been Shabia today. Hence, Shabia’s primary target is not Woyanne now. Shabia’s number one enemy is Ethiopian patriotism that continues to thrive despite 40 years of onslaught against it. Shabia believes that it can become a dominant force in the region once again only after destroying Ethiopian patriotism once and for all by infiltrating the Ethiopian opposition camp. Berhanu Nega’s gamble I don’t question Dr Berhanu Nega’s patriotism. I don’t think he will knowingly betray Ethiopia. But his poison pill strategy is an extremely risky gamble with his own life, the lives of thousands of Ethiopians, and the well-being of Ethiopia. Those of us who dealt with Shabia before him had also gambled and lost precious Ethiopians such as Tadesse Muluneh (the heroic Ethiopian fighter pilot who helped stop Siad Barr’s advance in eastern Ethiopia), Yosef Hunegnaw, Tesfaye Getachew, Shibabaw Abebe, 17 EPPF central committee members who were executed by Col. Fitsum Yesehak, and many others. How many losses must we sustain before we say enough dealing with Shabia? It is not like we are out of options for removing Woyanne! It needs to be remembered that Shabia had succeeded in taking power in Ethiopia through Meles Zenawi’s TPLF and became the de facto ruling party until 1998 when Tigrean nationalists unexpectedly rebelled after watching the massive looting that was going on. Shabia’s strategy of ruling Ethiopia by proxy through Meles Zenawi worked for 8 years. Fortunately, despite all the noise of the past couple of weeks, not all patriotic Ethiopians are falling for the Shabia-Ginbot 7 crude propaganda. This is the information age. People are empowered to make the right decision. Shabia has turned ESAT into its own propaganda tool, but there are independent media such as Ethiopian Review that present facts, counter-arguments and alternative views, allowing the people to make informed decisions.

Elias Kifle, » 24 Jul 2015

SOURCE: Ethiopian Review