Abel Kebedom -The History of the Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF) relationship with the people and government of South Sudan is a history of genocide and betrayal. As we all know, when the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM) started its struggle for the liberation of South Sudan, it was fully supported by the former Ethiopian government led by Mengistu Hailemariam.
Mengistu Supported SPLM to avenge for the North Sudanese support to the then Ethiopian opposition groups and Eritrean Liberation Movements. As a result, SPLM was hosted by Mengistu in the Gambella area of Ethiopia and was given permission to conduct military operations against Sudan.
Coupled with the SPLM military units, millions of south Sudanese civilian refugees were also sheltered in the camps in Gambella. Since then TPLF has betrayed the people and government of South Sudan several times.
The First Betrayal:
The first TPLF’s betrayal of the people of South Sudan started in the year of 1991. It was the year when the Mengistu regime was overthrown by Eritrean People’s Liberation Front and Ethiopian opposition groups. On that account, TPLF with the support of Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) was able to come to the helm of power in Ethiopia.
Few weeks after TPLF controlled Addis Ababa, it sent its Army units to Gambella and unleashed crime on millions of South Sudan Civilians who were sheltered in the Ethiopian Gambella Area. As a result of TPLF’s irresponsible and hateful action, hundreds of South Sudanese women and children were killed, taken by flood, eaten by crocodiles while crossing the river, and died of hunger.
Those who made it to South Sudan, mainly children, wandered in the bushes and lost their direction. The good example of the latter group is the lost boys of South Sudan. This group of kids made it to South Sudan and later picked by an American NGO that was operating in South Sudan and latter resettled them in the United States. For detailed information on this topic read about the story of the Lost Boys of South Sudan.
The Second Betrayal:
In the mid 1990’s in response to the Sudanese Hassan Al Turabi group’s support for Islamist groups from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda, at the initiative of the United States, the three countries agreed to respond to Sudanese interference in their internal affairs. As a result, Eritrea, which was the main victim of the Hassan Al Turabi Group terrorist activities, supported the SPLM and allowed it to operate in Western Eritrea bordering Sudan.
At the time SPLM was nearing to victory, the Ethio – Eritrea border conflict erupted. In an effort to enlist Sudan against Eritrea, TPLF dumped SPLM and aligned itself with Sudan. Regardless of the negative political and military implications, Eritrea kept its support to SPLM and continued to be on its side until Sudan agreed to withdraw from South Sudan. Although Eritrea’s support for SPLM was not to separate South Sudan from North Sudan, it was key to the success of SPLM.
The Third Betrayal:
Despite its repetitive betrayal of the peoples of the South Sudan, after South Sudan gained its independence, TPLF started to act as the savior of the country. Supported by the United States Africa Desk, spearheaded by Suzan Rice, TPLF worked hard to align South Sudan to Ethiopia.
When South Sudan resisted the interference, TPLF hatched a regime change agenda. Clandestinely with the support of its western handlers who were not happy with Chinese Domination of South Sudan’s oil wealth, it started to create a rift between the Riek Machar and the Salva Kiir Group.
Ethiopia’s ex-military generals who were sent by TPLF as advisors to South Sudan played a major role in the conspiracy to overthrow the government of South Sudan.
When the Coup against the South Sudanese government failed, Riek Machar fled to Ethiopia. Supported by TPLF’s military and logistics, he attacked South Sudan mercilessly. If it was not for the support of Uganda, the South Sudan government could have been overthrown easily.
The Fourth Betrayal:
When the military option failed, an agenda to install Rick Machar in the South Sudan government got traction. Led by the former Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, several efforts were made to give Machar a place in the South Sudan government.
Although South Sudan asked for the replacement of Seyoum Mesfin and change of the negotiation Venue from Addis Ababa to Kenya several times, it was rejected by TPLF and its handlers. The objective was to split the SPLM party in to two and install ethnic based federal government in South Sudan.
Knowing the sinister agenda to divide the people of South Sudan, Salva Kiir moved ahead of TPLF and increased the administrative regions to twenty-eight. Tanzania and Uganda stood by the government of South Sudan and opposed TPLF’s hidden agenda against the people and government of South Sudan.
Although Machar was able to return to South Sudan, he could not achieve the objective set by his handlers. As a result, he was forced to flee to Congo to be picked by the UN. When Machar fled Juba, TPLF knew it was the death of its sinister agenda against South Sudan.
Understanding its regime change agenda in South Sudan has failed and its core handlers in the US State Department Africa Desk are leaving office, now TPLF is disassociating itself from Machar.
Machar who was once allowed to live in luxury villa in Addis Ababa and conduct military operations from Ethiopian territory was refused to enter Addis Ababa.
Moreover, disappointed by the South Sudan’s government open support to Donald Trump, TPLF’s handlers at the State Department tried to impose arms sanctions on South Sudan that was vetoed by Russia.
Remember, Salva Kiir is the first foreign president who openly endorsed Donald Trump.
Donald Trump recognized and thanked Salva Kiir during the American highly contested election. That shows how much Salva Kiir was dissatisfied with TPLF and its US handlers. Hence it likely to conclude that Donald Trump’s win is positive to the Kiir government in a sense that at least it takes away the blind support of the outgoing US government to the TPLF hidden agenda against South Sudan.
Although TPLF may continue to support the Machar group that is still operating in South Sudan bordering Ethiopia, the lack of support from the new U.S. administration to TPLF’s hidden agenda in South Sudan may seal the coffin of TPLF historical betrayal to the people of South Sudan.