Tigrayan forces have regained control of their capital, Mekelle. The BBC reported: A statement released by what was termed the Government of the National State of Tigray praised a “stunning victory”, saying Mekelle was “now under the complete control of the Tigray Defence Forces”.
Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: Street celebrations as rebels seize capital – BBC News
Tigray, as a region of Ethiopia, was invaded by national Ethiopian and neighbouring Eritrean troops in November last year. The invaders have now been defeated and are on their way out. Tigray is becoming an independent state. Welcome, indeed, to the new National State of Tigray.
The treatment of Tigray by the central Ethiopian Government has been appalling. Ethiopia said they wanted to eliminate the Tigrayan leadership. Tigrayans were officially vilified, with the support of many Ethiopians, including church leaders. Ethiopia, with Eritrea, went on to devastate the whole region. All Tigrayans, especially young men and women, were targets for death or rape.
The regional leaders of Amhara in Ethiopia joined in the assault. They invaded Western Tigray and have been responsible for famine there. No Ethiopian regional leaders spoke up against the central government. There was no regional call for soldiers to refuse to serve in Tigray. The words, actions and silence of Ethiopians have made it clear that they do not want Tigray to continue as part of their nation. The damage has been too great. A new country is being born.
News commentators seem to have ignored that Tigray is now an independent National State. The media has been silent about this momentous development. Maybe the possible domino effect on other Ethiopian regions and the tribal regions of many other African countries is too much to contemplate. But Tigray the National State is a reality, a consequence of the unjustified assault on Tigray the Region.
The assault was indeed unjustified. Most media writers convey the view of the Ethiopian Government that Tigrayans started the conflict by attacking national army bases within Tigray. But the Ethiopian Government had already mobilised the army on the borders of Tigray, declaring that they needed to punish Tigray for holding their own regional elections. Tigrayan leaders were faced with threatened military invasion, including attacks from army camps within Tigray. Without the mobilisation of the Ethiopian national army and the war rhetoric, there would have been no need for Tigrayans to take over the army camps. Even when the camps were taken over, the Ethiopian Government could have taken this as a warning. Tigrayans now had weapons of their own, nothing like as many as the national army, but maybe enough to make the Ethiopian Government think again. Ethiopian soldiers went into Tigray regardless. (I covered this first at Tigray – Rwanda, Bosnia, all over again? | Rogerharper’s Blog (wordpress.com) )
The ‘stunning victory’ of Tigray is acknowledged widely. Over 8 months, Tigrayans formed and successfully defended a safe hilly retreat from where they raided and stole army supplies and weapons. They recruited and trained many fellow Tigrayans. Last month they withstood a final massive assault by Ethiopians and Eritreans, and made the counter-attack which has led to their victory.
The victory of Tigray has echoed Bible victories. The retreat from Mekelle was like King David retreating from Jerusalem when his son, Absalom, led a rebellion. The retreat in the safe hills was like David, earlier, hiding in the hills with his small band of fighters from the murderous intentions of the then King Saul. Tigrayan knowledge of army convoys to ambush was like Israelite knowledge of Syrian ambushes to avoid in the reign of King Jehu. Israelite knowledge came through Elisha the prophet. Tigrayan knowledge probably came through other, sophisticated, means. Prisoners of war in Tigray have not been killed but fed and sent home. Syrian prisoners of war, captured miraculously by Elisha, were not killed, as many in Israel wanted, but fed and sent home.
Tigrayans have explained their policy on prisoners of war as driven both by not having ability to feed and guard captives and by their Christian faith which does not allow them to kill captured enemy soldiers. If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ (Romans 12:20, Proverbs 25:21,22)
A Tigrayan feeding Ethiopian soldiers
When Tigrayans took over the national army camps in Tigray, they kept the weapons and sent home the soldiers, including commanders. Some of these commanders returned and were captured again, to be sent home again. The exceptions were commanders who were too afraid of being executed in Ethiopia and remained as civilians in Tigrayan villages.
Tigrayans are now called to apply Christian principles to their new national life. Tigray is called to be a kind of Switzerland in Africa: small, mountainous, independent, determined not to be involved in war, self-consciously Christian, moral, known for straight, honest, dealing, and thereby prosperous. Tigray will also develop a strong cultural, artistic, life. They will influence by example, not by force.
The Tigrayan victory has not only stunned Ethiopia, but Eritrea too. The new Tigrayan National State has declared their intention to make sure that Eritrea is never able to devastate their country again. They see the Eritrean President, Isaias Afwerki, as responsible and will not tolerate his brutal dictatorship continuing. Some people think this will take 2 months, some 2 weeks.
Eritrea will soon be rid of their dictator. There will be dancing in the streets of Asmara as there has been dancing in the streets of Mekelle. Welcome also to the New Eritrea! May that country be built on a better, more humane, more lasting, foundation