Congress should pass H.R. 128 and the Senate should pass S.R. 168. Neither should succumb to the deceptive games of the TPLF and SGR lobbying group.
As a member of AMISOM TCC (African Union Mission in Somalia Troop Contributing Countries), the TPLF regime in Ethiopia has shamelessly used the war on terror to enrich its generals at the expense of thousands of poor Ethiopian troops. Based on accounts of the families of soldiers who fought Al Shabab for years, a substantial portion of the compensation provided by the UN goes directly into the pockets of ruthless TPLF generals, who see the war on terror as a business opportunity. Once they are recruited to go to Somalia, Ethiopian soldiers have two enemies. Those enemies are Al Shabab, who wants to kill them, and the greedy generals who steal a chunk of their salaries. Even though the UN and its donors assume families of dead soldiers are well compensated and are expected to receive up to 50,000 US dollars, the TPLF reports most of the dead soldiers as lost and their families may not even be informed of the death of their loved ones.
The level of corruption and cruelty that the TPLF demonstrates is very clear from the new memorandum of understanding that AMISOM’s TCCs have signed. Out of the currently approved $1,028 US, here is how participant countries agreed to pay their soldiers.
1. Kenya gives the entire allowance of $1,028 US to its soldiers.
2. Burundi and Uganda deduct $200 US and give $828 US to their soldiers.
3. Djibouti deducts $328 US and gives $700 US to its soldiers.
4. The TPLF deducts over half of the allowance, splitting the retained amount equally
between the government and the Army Foundation, which is stated as a social organization.
It is important to note that the TPLF does not even state the actual amount it is giving to the soldiers that are sacrificing their lives to the War on Terror. Besides that, the so-called Army Foundation is another scheme that the TPLF designed to enrich its corrupt generals and their TPLF families. The lack of accountability of the TPLF that was permitted for years by donor nations and the African Union (AU) is astounding. This situation bankrupted the morale of Ethiopian soldiers who are upset by the way they are treated by their government. When soldiers complained about the situation, they were forced to suffer very serious consequences, including imprisonments and torture.
One of the main reasons Al Shabab was able to attain a strong hold in various regions of Somalia is because it claims to build resistance against Ethiopian evading forces. The war between Somalia and Ethiopia in 1977 has created a lot of animosity between the two neighbors and Al Shabab has exploited that situation to its advantage. Most Somalis do not like Al Shabab. However, they also hate the presence of Ethiopian solders on their soil, so they would rather stick with Al Shabab than help Ethiopian soldiers. Some experts argue that if Ethiopian forces withdraw from AMISOM, it would become harder for Al-Shabab to play the anti-Ethiopia media narrative card to recruit its fighters. Somalis also don’t believe Ethiopia has an interest in a stable Somali Government. That sentiment was clearly at play during a recent presidential election where the TPLF’s favorite candidate Hassan Sheikh Mohamud lost the bid while Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo won the election.
A research article by Zimmerman, K. et al (American Enterprise Institute, March 2017, pages 1-15) describes US strategy in Somalia as not being a long term winning strategy. The main reason for their conclusion is that “American strategy against Al Qaeda in Somalia depends on AMISOM, which is a fragile military coalition among weak, poor, and domestically challenged states.” Based on their study, this strategy has been unable to defeat Al Shabab or prevent it from regaining lost ground. It is clear from their conclusion that the US and EU need an Ethiopian government that is democratic, reliable and fair to its own people.
Evidence supporting that conclusion was observed when the ethnocentric regime in Addis Ababa faced popular uprisings in 2015 and 2016 against its corrupt and barbaric rule. Because of the uprisings, the TPLF decided to withdraw most of its soldiers and deploy them in Amhara and Oromo regions to suppress protests. The fact that the TPLF regime is undemocratic, ethnocentric, divisive, excessively corrupt, and terrorizing its own citizens will make it unreliable. The US should understand by now that the TPLF was not, is not and will not be a good partner.
The problems with the TPLF go back to its core principle, which is using ethnic cleansing as means to prolong its time in power. One of the founders and former chief of TPLF leaders were clear from the get go saying they will stay in power as long as the two major ethnic groups in the country (Amhara’s and Oromos) are antagonized. That makes the TPLF a primitive organization with a sick philosophy. To carry out its principle, the regime divided Ethiopia along ethnic lines and encouraged animosity by favoring one ethnic group over another. To weaken ethnic groups that challenge the TPLF, it denied basic resources to them, intentionally crippling their regional economies, and worse, the TPLF systematically committed genocides in Amhara, Oromo and Gambella regions.
The recent crisis in Eastern Ethiopia is well planned and encouraged by the regime. As the TPLF faces political and economic pressure, it orders its puppet reginal leaders, like Abdi Mohamoud Omar, President of the Somali region in Ethiopia and well-known torturer, to punish ethnic groups that revolt against its brutal dictatorship. By doing so, the TPLF intentionally destabilizes the region. President Abdi’s Facebook page officially targets and threatens to expel Oromos and Amhara’s who live in the region. It is very disturbing to see a president intentionally inciting violence against specific ethnic groups on his Facebook page. After allowing hundreds of thousands to be displaced and thousands to be killed, the TPLF plans to act like a power broker and a peace maker. The sad reality is that its military leaders allowed the killings and the displacements to go on in their presence and the TPLF is behind all the despicable human tragedies in the Harar region. The regime is so brutal and selfish that it is planning to make sure people in the Harar region will feel unsecured and terrified of each other just to carry on its sick plan.
According to a recent report by The Guardian, a research done in Africa by the UN concludes creation of terrorist organizations in Africa is largely due to brutal and selfish leaders who lead suppressive regimes that create extremists that have nothing to lose in that system because their lives have already been ruined by it. Those extremists in other parts of the world as well as in Africa are making the world a hellish place to their own people as well as western nations. If the US allows the TPLF to stay in power and play its cruel game with Ethiopians, the country may soon turn into a very different place.
Instead of helping to defeat terrorism in Somalia, the brutal TPLF could generate extremist factions in Ethiopia that were never there before. Extremists like Al Shabab will have a good ground to flourish in Ogden as there are Oromos and Somalis fighting there in the war that the TPLF created. The kids that are born and are growing up in those regions are growing with no help from the government. They witness their parents being killed and tortured by government soldiers, they are allowed to starve and suffer from communicable diseases and they are intentionally deprived of food and medicine. These children are likely to feel like they have nothing more to lose in life and prefer to join extremist factions in a society where they get the reassurance they never got from their own governments. That way, the TPLF could create extremist fighters that will not care about family, society, law and order, education and other things in life we value.
If the US and its allies want to win the war on terror in Somalia, they should stop helping this ethnocentric regime that rules with a sick philosophy that encourages ethnic cleansing, a regime that tortures its opponents, a regime that kills thousands of peaceful protesters and displaces hundreds of thousands of its people. The US and its allies should wake up and do the right thing by standing behind forces that would like to direct the country towards democratic governance. Help those who would like to allow all Ethiopians, regardless of their ethnicity and religious beliefs, to work hard, flourish together and build a democratic society. That is the type of government the US needs as reliable partner against the war on terror in Somalia, and that is why Congress needs to support and pass H.R. 128, and the Senate needs to pass S.R. 168 as soon as possible and hold the TPLF regime accountable for its actions.
7. Top financial providers to AMISOM include the US, EU and UK.
NY/NJ Ethiopian Task Force