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TPLF’s "Old Policy Number Two" in the Face of New Reality.

TPLF leaders

TPLF’s "Old Policy Number Two" in the Face of New Reality.

By Abel Kebedom

Recently, we all heard that TPLF is finalizing a new policy towards Eritrea. Accordingly, many people are wondering as to what that new policy might be. However, before I provide an insight into the new policy, I would like to take the readers a little back to history and explain the basis for TPLF’s so called New policy, what I call “old policy number two”.

By now it is a common knowledge to all Eritreans and Ethiopians that when the Eritrea and Ethiopia border Commission delivered its final and binding decision on 13 April 2002, Eritrea accepted the decision unconditionally and TPLF rejected it. In here it is logical for any sane person to ask the question that, after signing a final and binding agreement, why did TPLF decide to reject the border decision? It is also logical to expect that after a devastating war that consumed thousands of Eritrean and Ethiopian lives and property, and signing a final and binding agreement, for the sake of the two people, the Tigrai Liberation Front would do everything to accept the border decision and work towards its implementation.

However, such thinking could only be logical if the same person who was asking the question did not understand why the border war started in the first place. The truth is the border war started because TPLF's acceptance of the independence of Eritrea was a tactical decision. To verify the previous claim one does not have to go further than listening to what ex-TPLF leaders are saying publicly. Recently, the former Ethiopia’s Air Force General, Abebe Teklehaimanot, clearly stated that after TPLF controlled Ethiopia with the help of EPLF in 1991, major power holders in the TPLF junta like Siye Abraha, Gebru Asrat, Tewolde Woldemariam and others have shared his view about the need for Ethiopia to have access to the sea. Also, it is important to remember that it was not by coincidence that the same people were the ones who led the TPLF invasion against Eritrea. Hence, it is safe to conclude that, TPLF accepted the independence of Eritrea not because it wanted to, but because, during that time, it did not have any other choice. As we all know, from its inception extending to the year 1993, TPLF depended on EPLF for it survival in Ethiopia and it knew that its non-acceptance of the independence of Eritrea would be tantamount to committing suicide. Thus, TPLF decided to make a tactical decision that would be activated as soon as it builds a political, economic and military capability to implement its old agenda.

Hence it should not be a surprise that, in 1998, when TPLF felt it had a total grip on Ethiopia, not only it decided to start the war but also did not want to accept the final and binding decision delivered on 13 April 2002 by the commission. For TPLF accepting the EEBC decision and allowing its implementation to proceed means accepting the independence of Eritrea for once and for all and abdicating its claim for the future Tigrai republic to have access to the sea.

Recognizing such intention, when TPLF rejected the EEBC decision, the Eritrean government warned that TPLF’s action would lead to instability in the horn of Africa. In response TPLF leaders made clear that if Eritrea tried to host Ethiopian opposition groups they would go all the way to Asmara and topple the government in Eritrea.

Therefore, the expected TPLF new policy is not a new policy after all. It is a policy drafted when TPLF decided to reject the EEBC decision and weaken Eritrea and ultimately use military power for the final knockout blow on Eritrea and achieve the old agenda of greater Tigray with the red sea its getaway to the outside world. However, it seems not only TPLF is going to activate its “old policy number two” before the intended time, but also the policy is coming out in the face of a new reality. Next, I will try to explain what these new realities are.

TPLF “old policy number one” that was intended to weaken Eritrea did not work.

For unsuspecting observers, in the beginning, it might have seemed that with a massive diplomatic and financial support from the United States, TPLF would be able to weaken Eritrea and turn it into Somalia. However, as history tells us it is an illusion to think that TPLF, which is a minority regime with no legitimacy in Ethiopia, would be able to weaken the cohesive and persistent people of Eritrea who weathered the atrocities of successive Ethiopian regimes and able to assert their independence without any outside help. Hence, the new TPLF policy to invade Eritrea is coming out not because "old policy number one", that was intended to weaken Eritrea, has achieved its objective, but because the survival of TPLF in Ethiopia is at great risk.

TPLF is Weaker than Before.

Although TPLF wants to paint a different picture of its situation in Ethiopia, the realty is grimmer than before. Currently, TPLF’s Ethiopia is marred by political upheaval, financial system collapse and above all demoralized military that is confronted by opposition groups that are determined to get rid the minority regime from power and establish Ethiopia that belongs to all citizens.

TPLF Lost the “White Woyanes”.

For the last twenty-five years TPLF has received immense diplomatic, military and financial support from Washington and the European Union. On the top of that, with the help of Washington, TPLF was able to use neighboring countries and regional organization to implement its policies against Eritrea. Although it is naivety to think that Washington will not continue its support to TPLF, this time, it is more likely the support will be aligned to Washington’s interests in the region than that of TPLF.

Therefore, it is in the backdrop of the above new realities that TPLF is preparing to debut its “old policy number two” to invade Eritrea. The question is why now? Well there are some reasons for that. First, after the recent turmoil in Ethiopia TPLF is learning that it is running out of time before it uses the Ethiopian military and resources to implement its “old policy number two”, which is very important for its old agenda of independent Tigray with the red Sea its get way to the outside world. Second, given the political problems in Ethiopia, TPLF might have concluded that war with Eritrea could be useful to garner some unity among Ethiopians and forget the atrocities that TPLF has committed on innocent Ethiopians.

The third and final reason is TPLF often considered any positive development in Eritrea as a strategic threat to its old agenda. Currently, Eritrea not only survived the hard times but also is getting stronger. Hence by waging war against Eritrea, TPLF wants to slow that positive trend in Eritrea which it thinks is a threat to its “old policy number two”.


Regardless of the new realities on the ground, it seems TPLF is planning to activate its “old policy number two”. It is highly likely that such decision is triggered by the recent political and economic developments in Ethiopia and Eritrea and TPLF’s fear of it will not be too long before its power in Ethiopia comes to an end. The central question that begs an answer is whether TPLF is thinking about a suicide mission or it truly believes it has the economic, political and military leverage to implement its “old policy number two”. I leave the answer to the reader. However, if there are some sane people left in the TPLF camp, I like to extend my candid advice to them. Accept the EEBC decision, work towards its implementation and follow a political process to resolve the political and economic issues that are important to the two countries.

Awet’Nehafash and Zelealemawi Zikri NeSewuatna..

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