, 02 December, 2020 / 6:20 PM
An Ethiopian political analyst has told a Catholic aid agency that Eritrea is fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front alongside Ethiopia amid reports that the ongoing war in the Horn of Africa has spilled over to Eritrea.
In an interview with the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, Prince Dr Asfa-Wossen Asserate who is a management consultant for the Middle East and Africa, a bestselling author and political analyst said that the spillover would not affect the current peace between the two countries.
“Ethiopia and Eritrea are fighting the TPLF together. Who would have believed this would ever be possible?” Prince Asserate responded when he was asked how the firing of missiles in Eritrea would affect the peace process between the two countries.
“The old problems between Ethiopia and Eritrea have been overcome. This peace will last,” the political analyst, also known to be the great-nephew of Haile Selassie, the last Emperor of Ethiopia, told ACN.
The landlocked Horn of Africa nation has been experiencing clashes since November 4 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed-led government ordered a military offensive against the authorities in the Tigray region, which borders Eritrea and Sudan.
Quoting the UN Refugee Agency, the leadership of the Pontifical charity organization that runs a number of projects in Ethiopia has reported that 11,000 people have already fled to neighboring Sudan to escape the fighting in the Horn of Africa nation.
Tigray regional President Debretsion Gebremichael has confirmed firing missiles at neighboring Eritrea’s capital and is threatening more as the deadly fighting in Northern Ethiopia escalates.
“As long as troops are here fighting, we will take any legitimate military target and we will fire,” Mr. Gebremichael said, denying reports that Tigray regional forces have entered Eritrea.
Prince Asserate said that members of TPLF who, in early November, reportedly attacked a military base of the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defence Force in Tigray at night, killing a large number of soldiers, were to blame for the conflict that was now spilling over to neighboring Eritrea.
“Ethiopia had to react. That was what triggered this war,” Prince Asserate said in reference to the initial exchange between TPLF and Ethiopia’s Federal government.
He claimed to have foreseen the war years before it happened, saying, “I have been warning that this could happen for over 30 years, that the ethnicization of politics would inevitably lead to an ethnic cleansing. That is what is happening right now.”
Responsible for the current catastrophe is the constitution that was forced upon the Ethiopians in the early 1990s by the TPLF, the political analyst told ACN.
“It is imperative that this apartheid constitution is replaced by a new one, which finally will turn Ethiopia into the country that most Ethiopians have wanted for at least 50 years: a democratic federalist state.
Prince Asserate faulted alleged media reports that the ongoing attack against the Tigray threatens to destabilize the country. He said that the peace in the country would be achieved once the TPLF were conquered.
“If the TPLF and their allies no longer hold any influence, then the greatest enemy of the Ethiopian union has been conquered. We Ethiopians can then live in peaceful coexistence, as we have been doing for thousands of years,” he said.
The Ethiopian political analyst also sought to clarify that the ongoing crisis in Ethiopia has nothing to do with religion.
“The fighting going on at the moment is not motivated by religion. Tigray is the most Christian of all the Ethiopian provinces,” he said, and added, “Aksum (the historic capital of the Aksumite Empire, which later gave rise to Ethiopia) is particularly important as the root of Ethiopian culture and its entire civilization. Both the country’s first church and first mosque were built in Aksum.”
In a country where a majority of people are Christians, the political analyst called on the Church in the west to “raise their voices” in condemnation of the ongoing crisis.
“When thousands of Ethiopian Christians were killed in the summer, the Orthodox Churches in Europe were the most vocal in condemning what had happened. By contrast, the western Churches were very reserved in their reaction,” he recalled.
The political analysis and author added, “I very much hope that western Church leaders will not follow in the lead of the secular governments, who apply a so-called “Realpolitik” in their dealings with Africa and bend their knees even to authoritarian regimes.”
“That cannot be the path chosen by the Christian Churches. Instead, it is imperative that they raise their voices in criticism wherever the laws of Christ are not being followed, and help wherever possible,” he said.
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Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa