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Ethiopia- Israel & the mystery of the "61 Tigres".

Post by Zmeselo » 22 Jan 2022, 13:26

Courtesy: ELIÉZER (@EliezerAbate)

Here's a story that slipped under the radar, not receiving much coverage in the western press.

A few months ago, four war criminals wanted by the Ethiopian government escaped out of Tigray in a secret Israeli airlift operation.

Early last November reports emerged in the Israeli Press that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed angrily phoned and complained to Israeli PM Naftali Bennet about four war criminals, being among the dozens of people the Israeli government evacuated out of Tigray.

Haaretz, which broke the news, described the evacuation as a
daring operation


endangered human lives and Israel's diplomatic relations with Ethiopia,

insinuating that Israel may have entered Tigray without the knowledge of Ethiopian officials.

שקד על אי-ההסכמה על מינוי שופטים: "על הבחירה להיות מאוזנת בין המועמדים מכל צד" | רשת 13 ... w-1425810/
Israel's Interior Minister, Ayelet Shaked, described the individuals as "61 Tigres" in an interview following the news reports.

So, what are we to make of the PM's accusation that some war criminals are among these "61 Tigres"?

Hundreds of TPLF fighters and loyalists have been indicted on war crimes charges including for the Mai Kadra massacre.

In Nov 2020, a TPLF youth off-shoot called Samri singled out Amhara civilians and went on house-to-house raids massacring households with axes and machetes.

The Ethiopian Attorney General's Office, identified 202 perpetrators of Mai Kadra last May and announced the arrest of 23 of them.

The office indicated that the whereabouts of the rest remained unknown, with most believed to have fled to Sudan.

The PM's reaction suggests, that the Ethiopian government was blindsided by the operation.

What's strange about this operation is that it came at the request of one man named Saraka Siom (Seyoum), described by Haaretz as

not a well-known figure in the Israeli Tigrayan community.

Israel's own Population Authority discovered in an investigation that Seyoum brought his

ex-wife and two boys, who claimed to be his sons

and several others who

have worked in his businesses.

The agency accuses the government of engaging in what it calls: a "conspiracy".

A senior Israeli official, on the other hand, said the Population Authority's investigation was

conducted recklessly

and denies the charges of conspiracy.

The official insists, Israel was acting on intelligence that Ethiopian Jews were in imminent danger in Tigray.

The Population Authority disputes this and asserts the individuals,

didn’t come from the conflict zone and their lives weren’t at risk at all.

Yet Israeli gov officials insist,

regardless of whether they can truthfully claim Jewish ancestry ... the immigrants will remain here.

That this operation took place, with the approval at the highest levels of the Israeli government is remarkable.

Especially, when considered in the context of other contemporaneous reports about Israel's refusal to sell Ethiopia UAV drones needed to halt the TPLF's advance.

There's also a surprising claim in a story by DebkaFile, an Israeli military intelligence site, that

Israel and the Tigrayans have engaged in contacts in the past.

We're left wondering, is there an innocent explanation for why Israel secretly evacuated 61 people from Tigray?

Over the past four decades, Israel has evacuated ~100K Ethiopian Jews known as the Beta Israel and the Falash Mura.

Today, the Beta Israel have all migrated out of Ethiopia while ~14K Falash Mura remain in Addis, Gonder, and Tigray awaiting immigration to Israel.

These members live in Jewish Agency compounds in Ethiopia which include a synagogue, schools, and pre-immigration preparation.

2000 Falash Mura have left Ethiopia over the past year and just recently, an additional $46 million was earmarked by Israel to bring 3000 more.

It's not clear why Israel didn't vet the Jewish identity of the 61 individuals while they were in Ethiopia, rather than after they arrived in Israel.

It also seems unlikely, that Ethiopian officials vetted the group for any indication of criminality.

An Israeli official asserts, that PM Bennet
received the decision about the immigration operation as done and dusted

from the outgoing PM Netanyahu.

Regardless of who made the call, what's clear is that "61 Tigres" were brought to Israel instead of Falash Mura Jews.

This story leaves us with more questions than answers and the identity of the individuals, remains a mystery.

But, before looking into the outstanding questions, here's what we know so far:

(1) Individuals on Ethiopia's most wanted list are part of a group evacuated out of Tigray by the Israeli government.

(2) Israel's own immigration agency, accuses the Bennet admin of a "conspiracy".

(3) An individual named "Saraka Seyoum", engaged in massive immigration fraud.

How did Seyoum, manage to get the ear of the Netanyahu admin?

Is he the informant, who tipped them about the imminent danger of Jews in Tigray?

What businesses does he have in Tigray?

Will Ethiopia verify his business dealings?

Will he be held accountable by Israel?

Does he exist, or is he just a front-man concealing a more nefarious reason?

For what it's worth, there are no public records for this individual.

A quick Google search returns just seven results, all related to this story of the evacuation.

Following the PM's phone call, The Times of Israel reported that Israel has pledged to send back some individuals under the condition that it would first have to verify that they're indeed war criminals.

It's possible, the two sides may have resolved the issue behind the scenes.

But it's hard to have confidence in Israel's attempts to verify these charges, after its failure to verify that "61 Tigres" are not Falash Mura Jews.

So, we agree with the Population Authority's conclusion that

more remains concealed than revealed

about this operation.

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Joined: 30 Jul 2010, 20:43

Re: Ethiopia- Israel & the mystery of the "61 Tigres".

Post by Zmeselo » 22 Jan 2022, 16:15

Has deWaal had a nervous breakdown? Is Alex ok? Lost his marbles? Does he need a doctor? Is that really him? Did the TPLF put him up to this? Is he actually calling, for the breakup of Ethiopia?

lawrence freeman: @lfreemansafrica

Alex de Waal is the epitome of a Westerner, who imagines that African problems are all about him and his emotional moralism. He talks, as though he's been at the Ethiopian battlefront since November 3 and now he's exhausted. Poor guy. 😭🤮😭

AnnGarrison: @AnnGarrison

Alex de Waal hateful speech towards Ethiopians

Senior Member+
Posts: 28290
Joined: 30 Jul 2010, 20:43

Re: Ethiopia- Israel & the mystery of the "61 Tigres".

Post by Zmeselo » 22 Jan 2022, 23:23

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks during a session with the Members of the Parliament in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Ethiopia needs more than peace talks

Regardless of what happens in Tigray, without the help of international financial institutions, the foundation of the state will come apart.

JANUARY 19, 2022

Written by Alex de Wall ... ace-talks/

Washington’s new special envoy for the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, ... of-africa/ and Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Molly Phee, are heading for Ethiopia this week ... tterfield/.

They are doubtless buoyed by some rare good news from the country: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has released some political prisoners, toned down bellicose rhetoric against the Tigrayans who are fighting fiercely in the country’s 14-month-old civil war, and spoken with President Joe Biden ... -ethiopia/ for the first time. Abiy also gave a green light to the African Union’s high representative, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, to meet with the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The shifts are real. The center of political controversy in Addis Ababa is no longer the Tigray war but the question of whether Abiy will be able to corral enough of the Oromos — the country’s largest ethnic group — into his planned “‘national dialogue.” The position of Jawar Mohamed, a leader of the Oromo democratic movement ... -released/ and committed federalist, now at liberty after 18 months in prison, will be crucial. Abiy is now wooing the splintered but still vigorous Oromos, speaking positively about the federal constitution, and distributing promotions to army officers — many Oromos — like confetti ... l-general/.

In doing so, he also surprised and antagonized the unionist constituency, mostly Amhara ethno-nationalists, who had been the most hardline supporters of the war on Tigray, some of them indulging in blatantly genocidal rhetoric. ... te-speech/ Planned festivities in Addis Ababa and Amhara region cities to celebrate “victory” were abruptly called off.

Abiy’s maneuvers caught many Ethiopians off guard and won him some room for maneuver. Western diplomats are hopeful that peace negotiations with the TPLF may now be in prospect; Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has been active behind the scenes. In his talk with Abiy, Biden stressed the need for humanitarian access to the starving in Tigray, halting human rights abuses, and the need for peace.

Nonetheless, the war rages on. Following the Tigrayans’ withdrawal of their forces from neighboring regions last month — under pressure from the United States as well as onslaught by newly-acquired swarms of drones — fierce fighting has continued. The Ethiopian army stalled its ground offensive into Tigray, ... y-81915640 but air strikes continue on a daily basis, killing scores of civilians.

Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki have not relaxed their starvation siege on five million people. The most recent United Nations food assessment for Tigray was in June last year, and it forecast widespread famine within three months ... mendations if aid were not delivered at scale. Abiy has permitted only 12 percent of needed aid to go in. For six months, the official figure for the starving has remained unchanged ... in-tigray/ at 400,000 — a number that is no more than a desperately optimistic guess given the dreadful logic of famine. Last week, the World Food Program reported that its warehouses in Tigray were empty, while Tigrayan doctors detailed ... inst-hope/ the near-total collapse of health services. Not even insulin for diabetic patients is allowed on the UN’s sole weekly supply flight. Ending the famine was top of Biden’s talking points when he spoke with Abiy on January 10.

For Abiy’s close ally Afwerki, political dialogue, prisoner releases or federalism are anathema, and he made clear his contempt for Abiy in a rare television interview ... -interview earlier this month. Isaias remains determined to crush Tigray. His troops are still fighting inside Tigray, and his agents are all over Ethiopia, sowing discord and running illicit businesses.

These issues make for a full agenda for Satterfield, Phee and Obasanjo. But it’s important that they don’t mistake short-term maneuvers for a fundamental and essential political reorientation. Abiy is like a skilled seaman who can keep his ship afloat, but he’s not a navigator who can steer it to a destination.

What explains Abiy’s latest maneuver is that he has run out of money. Alongside the disintegration of the unified national army and the fever pitch of ethnic mobilization, bankruptcy portends protracted state crisis, perhaps collapse.

When Abiy took office four years ago, Ethiopia’s economy, following an East Asian “developmental state” model, ... wth-record had been growing at nine percent annually for a decade. Now it’s a basket case: growth in 2021 may be just two percent, and the uncertainties are such that the IMF hasn’t made any forecast ... -forecast/ for 2022. Having overspent massively on the 2021/22 budget (the fiscal year runs from July), the government presented a supplementary budget ... d-from-war to parliament in December. Grants and loans have dried up; its credit rating is rated “junk;” ... 021-09-24/ and the country is considered “uninvestable ... 021-12-16/ by the private sector. Despite desperate lobbying, Ethiopia lost its beneficiary status under the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act ... beneficia/ on January 1 due to its gross human rights record. Abiy boasted that he could always turn to other allies, including China, Russia, and Middle Eastern countries. But while they may offer him cash in hand and discounts on weapons sales, none will bail out a failing economy in a nation of 115 million people. Only the Atlantic powers and the Bretton Woods institutions can do that.

Ethiopia needs a rescue package ... -calamity/ to stave off galloping inflation, restructure its debts and keep the lights on. The donors won’t step up while it spends all its resources on the war.

Most urgently, Ethiopia is facing a nationwide food crisis. According to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning System Network,
expanding conflict and prolonged drought [are] expected to drive record-level and extreme need in 2022. ... tober-2021
Alarms don’t come more explicit than this. The FEWSNET map shows emergency and crisis food insecurity across half of the country. Faced with a crippling harvest shortfall six years ago, the government mobilized a rapid and effective response. ... of-famine/ It wasn’t just a humanitarian effort — government leaders feared that a 50 percent hike in the price of food would lead to unrest and endanger the regime. Food price inflation recently hit 40 percent.

It’s Western nations, especially the United States, that fill Ethiopia’s emergency food basket. They insist that the government feed the starving in Tigray as well as the hungry in the rest of the country.

Abiy’s political challenge is encapsulated in the name of the Prosperity Party he leads. It’s both a nod to his Pentecostalist faith and a promise of material rewards ... to-prosper to his followers. When he took office in 2018, Abiy entranced Ethiopians by telling them that everyone could have everything, once the magic of the free market worked its wonders and the corruption of the previous regime was rooted out. But his real sorcery was a one-time fire sale of state assets. He doled out prime real estate in return for political favors and began selling off the crown jewels of the developmental state, notably the government-owned telecoms.

In fact, the war on Tigray was not only a power struggle but a huge grab of land ... nsing.html and assets. The internment of Tigrayans in Addis Ababa en masse late last year amounted to a massive shakedown, as their businesses have been confiscated and they are extorted to pay bribes to make phone calls, get medicine or — if they can afford it — buy their release.

Eritrea grabbed its share of the spoils by pillage. It also snapped up Tigrayan companies and runs illicit foreign currency exchange schemes. To recapture the hard currency from remittances — Ethiopia’s most reliable source of dollars ... ary-21.pdf — the Central Bank of Ethiopia is contemplating a new parallel exchange rate. Unconcerned with the stability of the Ethiopian currency, Eritrea will be a ruthless rival in that market.

Abiy is adept at managing the urban elite through the autocrat’s classic playbook of coercion and patronage. In the provinces, his coercive options are limited because security is in the hands of regional ethnic forces whose loyalty isn’t to him. And Abiy has probably left it too late for financial stabilization. The region’s merciless political operators are circling around a wounded and weakened leader, expecting him to stoke political disorder because he thinks he can zigzag more smartly than his rivals. That may be correct, but that way lies protracted instability — saving a government by sacrificing a functioning state.

The transactional politics practiced by Abiy and his backers is possible only with a solid macroeconomic foundation. The Ethiopian state is failing because that foundation is crumbling, and the help needed can only come from America, Europe, and the international financial institutions they still control. Washington has strong cards to play, if it wishes to play them.

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