Addis Abeba – In a rare remark about the two years war in the Northern Tigray region of Ethiopia and the peace dead that ended it, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, said that the peace deal signed between Ethiopian government and Tigrayan authorities in Pretoria, South Africa in November last year to end the devastating war was made by the US to save the Tigrayan forces from loosing in the battlefield.
In an exclusive interview with state owned Eri-TV, which was streamed on 12 February for more than 90 minutes, the president accused the US for supporting the Tigrayan fighters from the start of the war
Furthermore, he said that Eritrea “entered into the third round war in unison with Ethiopia having experiences garnered during the first and second phase of the war… putting aside the issue of sovereignty.” Despite his mention of “sovereignty” only during the third round of the war which broke out on 24 August 2022, Eritrean troops are known to have fought alongside the Ethiopian Army and allied militias from the neighboring Amhara region against the Tigrayan forces since the start of the war. But their involvement was only officially admitted in March 2021, for the first time when PM Abiy Ahmed told Ethiopian parliament that, “any damage Eritrean army did to our people was unacceptable.”
Commenting more on the peace deal signed between the federal government and Tigrayan authorities, the President remarked: “they [TPLF leaders] traveled from Mekelle to Djibouti onboard US plane, and then from Djibouti to Pretoria where they were given a paper to sign. Everything was done by Washington. Obasanjo, Uhuru, African Union were all chaperons,” the president said, adding that, “the paper was prepared and given to them by Washington”.
However, he said that he will not be worried about the peace agreement reached by the federal government and the TPLF, “It is good that they signed; let it be implemented, we cannot say this and that unless we see its implementations,” he added.
He said that the war started by the “TPLF and their masters in Washington” and was “set on a new phase to jeopardize the peace between the two countries [Ethiopia and Eritrea] when they attacked Eritrea with missiles, in accordance to the instigation of their accomplice, the Washington, having misled the people of Tigray”.
“We entered into the third round war in unison with Ethiopia having experiences garnered during the first and second phase of the war“
“The TPLF leaders didn’t know their capabilities. The group in Washington who instructs and stirs them is no better. The wrong calculation of the Washington is what boosted the confidence of the TPLF [to start the war]”, he added.
“We entered into the war in response to unrestrained war-mongering and aggression of the TPLF. Our countries, our lands, our people and our region needed to have peace.”
He, however, admitted for the first time that hundreds of thousands of people died in the conflict and the “the damage was unseen anywhere in the world”, but made the TPLF accountable for all the devastation.
Human rights organizations have long documented the atrocities committed against Tigrayan civilians including the state backed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which reported the grave human rights violations and attack against civilians in the historic and religious city of Axum.
Amnesty has reported that as late as September 2022, Eritrean forces extrajudicially killed at least 40 people in Sheraro town, in North Western Zone of the Tigray region.
The US has been urging the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the region until recently, when US ambassador to the UN Security Council (UNSC), Linda Thomas Greenfield, said that the US knew Eritrean troops have moved back to the border, and have been asked to leave.
But the President said that instead of implementing the agreement, the TPLF and its agents are busy campaigning on various agenda. “Accusations against Eritrea that it didn’t withdraw [from Tigray], that its troops killed people etc, are detraction from the implementation of the peace agreement,” the president said, adding that, “this are Washington’s deeds to hamper the implementation of the agreement and give chance for another violence to emerge, it is an effort to buy more time.”
He described the allied war of his government and the federal government of Ethiopia against Tigrayan fighters as a source of “significant experience and lesson to ensure peace” in the region but cast a shadow of doubt saying it is impossible to say the war is over. “TPLF is a war-monger and it cannot quit from its habits”. AS