By Ahmed Yusuf
The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has been claiming, for a year now, that Tigray is "under siege" and that its forces are fighting until the siege on Tigray is lifted and many international observers especially Western governments have been swayed by this claim.
In other words, the West has remained hesitant to condemn TPLF when it committed atrocities in Afar and Amhara because it sees TPLF's "breaking the siege" sham objective as a just cause.
But the fact remains that the Ethiopian government is not the one holding Tigray under siege but instead it is TPLF itself that is holding Tigray hostage from receiving any sorts of assistance both from the federal government and humanitarian organizations.
First, after Mekelle was captured on November 28, 2020, the federal government began installing a new Tigrayan interim administration composed of Tigray opposition political parties. During this seven months of administration, the Ethiopian government invested over 100 billion Birr or 2 billion USD, 12 times more than what Tigray used to receive annually, and over 30 humanitarian organizations delivered much needed assistance in a relatively better conditions than what is now.
In spite of this, however, the TPLF was actively working to prevent any power from administrating Tigray other than itself. It assassinated more 100 Tigrayans who were members of the interim administration, attacked aid workers and Eritrean refugees. Most of all, the TPLF managed to convince the locals to kill members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) who were stationed in Tigray. In the eyes of Ethiopians, it committed the same betrayal as the one when it attacked the Northern Command on November 03, 2020.
As a consequence, the federal government was forced to withdraw from much of Tigray and the TPLF was given the opportunity to serve Tigrayans in Tigray. Nonetheless, the TPLF instead chose to kill, rape and destroy civilian infrastructures in Afar and Amhara region instead of settling to become a government in Tigray and serve the people. This proves that it was TPLF that is getting in the way of Tigray from receiving support both from the federal government and humanitarian organizations.
This is proven when civil servants in Tigray recently began to demand their salaries that the TPLF prevented them from receiving from the federal government since May last year. Hence, TPLF, which sees itself as the government of Tigray, is busy financing its war rather than attending to the needs of people of Tigray.
Second, TPLF has showed itself to be a destructive force heavily armed both with weapons, soldiers and propaganda. It proved that it was capable to break any siege when in August last year it began invading parts of Afar and Amhara region moving its forces as far as 583 KM away from Tigray. This begs the question where does the siege actually break? or was there any siege on Tigray at all?
Surprisingly, after traveling over 600 KM from Tigray, the TPLF said it "withdrew" its forces "fearing US condemnation". If one accepts, for arguments sake, TPLF's claim that it willingly withdrew from Amhara and Afar, one will come to notice that it has also abandoned its initial "noble cause" of breaking the siege on Tigray succumbing to the US' wish. Yet again one might ask who holds the leash on TPLF or are Tigrayans just pawns in its game of throne.
Third, TPLF recently penetrated 150 KM into Afar region and consequently captured three Woredas including Abala, the only route to deliver humanitarian
aid into Tigray, demonstrates that TPLF has not been truthful in its
claim that its under siege especially when one understands that the Afar
militia were the only ones defending against the heavily armed TPLF
forces. And the fact that the ENDF was not present in Afar to help Afar militia when the TPLF invaded Woredas in Kilbet Rasu, Afar, shows that the federal government has not imposed a siege on Tigray.