Ethiopia/Tigray: A ‘balanced’ approach to Abiy’s medieval war makes a mockery of justice (The Africa Report)
By Debretsion Gebremichael
Leader of Tigray's government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front
The Tigray government and people should not face international sanctions for trying to avoid annihilation.
The international response to the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments’ genocidal war on Tigray has been woefully inadequate. But what is also perplexing about the international response has to do with the reflexive tendency to apportion blame for ongoing hostilities not on the basis of objective facts but on the need to appear evenhanded.
Since ‘bothsideism’, or an insistence on false equivalence, permeates the international reaction to the conflict in Tigray, the Ethiopian government has incentives to levy baseless countervailing accusations against Tigrayan forces in the hope of muddying the narrative and avoiding accountability for various atrocities its forces have committed. But because there are two or more parties to a conflict does not automatically imply that their causes are equally just and their conduct equally acceptable.
The Government of Tigray has, for instance, accepted the principles outlined in President Biden’s Executive Order, affirming its commitment to finding a negotiated ceasefire and ultimately a negotiated settlement to the current conflict. By contrast, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia penned a rambling open letter to President Biden, the upshot of which is simply that he does not favor a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The contents of Abiy Ahmed’s open letter conflate being asked not to violate citizens’ human rights and starve them to death with an unwelcome encroachment on national sovereignty. In short, the Government of Tigray has unequivocally accepted calls for a peaceful resolution whereas the Ethiopian government insists on a military solution to a fundamentally political conflict. And yet, the international community seems wedded to a version of fairness that paradoxically rewards the aggressor.
As a result, the commitment to ‘bothsideism’ means that talks about coercive sanctions tend to encompass all warring sides irrespective of their stated position with regards to a peaceful settlement.
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