Open Letter to Tegadalay Debretsion.
TPLF can Simultaneously Shape Tigray, Ethiopia & the Horn of Africa but This Time Anchored in Tigray not in Arat Kilo.
Congratulations to you, your comrades, and the Tigray people for successfully foiling the joint conspiracy of Abiy, Isaias and “archaic unitary Ethiopia” dreamers to destroy and subdue the TPLF and the Tigray people. Though, the war has brought untold misery, genocidal killings, rape, destruction, famine, ethnic profiling/discrimination/ persecution/arrest and forced displacement of the Tigrayan people, TPLF and the Tigray people have once again passed through fire, refined as gold and reborn to lead and shape the future of Tigray, Ethiopia, and the Horn Africa to greatness. With the leadership capability that TPLF has built over the last 30 years in various sectors and with the availability of abundant pool of highly educated and experienced Tigrayans and other Ethiopians, the TPLF is more than able to play the leadership role to rapidly stabilize and transform Tigray, Ethiopia, and the Horn of Africa. The purpose of this open letter is to bring to your attention issues that I believe are critical in TPLF’s endeavor to further play its leadership role in a sustainable manner.
(1) The Birth of a New Ethiopia with “Hybrid Federated & Confederated State structure” with Tigray as its foundation and pillar.
It looks Abiy who is controlled by Isaias may not be willing for a negotiated peace and, it is expected that TDF, OLA and allied federalist forces will continue the military advancement toward Addis Ababa and control the political, security and military of the Ethiopian government, to form a transitional government in collaboration with key stakeholders, representing the cross section of Ethiopia. However, in consideration to the 27 years’ experience, the seat of the transitional government must be in Mekelle not in Arat Kilo.
During the transition period, all existing federal states (e.g., Tigray, Oromia, Amhara, and Somalia etc.) must be given the opportunity to establish sovereign states, after referendum as per the existing constitution. However, if TPLF will be able to move the center of Federal Ethiopia permanently from Addis Ababa to Axum in consultation to other member states, it is my expectation that the people of Tigray may prefer to stay as part of the Federal Ethiopia (while the right for Tigray to be a sovereign state is always guaranteed as per the constitution). New federal states that will be established as per the constitution (e.g., Kimant, Addis Ababa, Agew etc.) and existing Federal states that will prefer to stay as part of the federated Ethiopia including Tigray could Establish the new Federal Ethiopia with its capital city in Axum. The new sovereign states that will be separated from the existing Ethiopia and the new Federal Ethiopia could also willingly establish the Confederated Ethiopia with its head office located in Axum or Addis Ababa. As an option, Tigray as the main sponsor of the establishment of the new Ethiopia could also differ Tigrayans referendum for sovereign Tigray at least 10 years and remain part of the Federal Ethiopia to assist the new Ethiopia to be stable and peaceful.
Addis Ababa’s fate must be decided through referendum either to be part of Oromia or part of the new Federal Ethiopia. If majority of the dwellers of Addis Ababa vote to be part of the new Federal Ethiopia but Oromia votes to be a sovereign state, Oromia must have its own separate capital city and Addis Ababa could be the seat of the Confederated Ethiopia Union (similar to the European Union).
The Confederated Ethiopia could progressively include willing countries in the Horn of Africa such as Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Djibouti.
(2) Urgent Security related issues that require immediate actions
(2.1) The Amhara State issue
Stabilizing the Amhara state is expected to be a challenge and the need to facilitate for the establishment of Amhara federalist political group with an armed wing that will be responsible to bring stability and peace to the state. People to people discussion and consultation (e.g., Tigray-Amhara, Oromia-Amhara) is also required to bring reconciliation.
(2.2) The Eritrea issue
- The Algiers agreement with Eritrea was misguided and was a mistake. It should be the 1st stupid post war peace agreement in the world because “a defeated aggressor was appeased as if it was the victor”. In my view Isaias has made the “Algiers Agreement” null and void when it invaded Ethiopia in November 2021 and occupied large part of Tigray/Ethiopia to change the geographical boundaries by force.
Abiy made grave and strategic mistakes over the last three years and allowed Isaias to neo-colonize Ethiopia and he himself has become Isaias’s puppet. Abiy allowed Isaias to destroy Tigray and he handed over the sovereignty of Ethiopia including its economy, security, and military. The problem with Eritrea could only be resolved through surgical operation to remove Isaias from power.
The Eritrean people aspire to be economically, culturally, and historically to be integrated with Ethiopia while maintaining their sovereignty. Hence, there should be a liberalized border, trade, and job market between the two countries with the citizens of the two nations benefit in equitable manner. TPLF/Ethiopia may also consider taking possession of the strip of land in Eritrea from Assab/Djibouti border to the historical Axumite port of Adulis, to secure strategic outlet to the Red Sea both for Tigray and the new Ethiopia, as a strategic penalty for the tens of billions of dollars damage and the genocidal and destructive war crime Eritrea committed against Tigray and Ethiopia.
(2.3) Egypt and the GERD - Commercialize the water issue
The water issue has been a major driver of instability both in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. However, the zero-sum game that has been played by Egypt to ensure its water security over the years has become unsustainable, out of dated and irrelevant for the following reasons:
* Creating jobs and feeding the rapidly growing population in the Horn of Africa and in the countries of the Nile Basin demands governments to generate power for industrialization and to transform traditional farming to mechanized irrigated farming to produce sufficient food to ensure food security which requires more consumption of water
* The Aswan High dam only stores one-year flow of the Nile water, whereas global warming and other unpredictable climate changes could result in a drought that lasts to the biblical-proportion of up to seven years. In that case, the Aswan dam could dry with unimaginable consequences and makes Egypt’s current water security strategy null and void.
* The growing population of Egypt also requires more water than the storage capacity of the High Aswan dam. That necessitates the construction of additional reservoir dams either in Ethiopia and/or Sudan (building an additional dam in Egypt is not practical). Egyptians are also considering other sources of water such us linking the Congo River with the White Nile and digging the Jonglei Canal in South Sudan which are good ideas but difficult to implement. If Egypt succeeds to dig the Jonglei Canal, the construction of dams on the Abay river is mandatory to regulate its flow and avoid flooding of Khartoum.
* The Aswan high dam which has a water capacity of 130 billion (GERD stores about 74 billion) cubic meter, may be filled by silt within the next 300 to 500 years. How will Egypt manage such unavoidable fact with a huge population that is 95% dependent on the Nile water? In fact, the construction of dams in Ethiopia prolongs the service life of the Aswan dams by reducing accumulation of silt.
* Considering the above points, it is expected that Egyptian water security strategists and the Egyptian government covertly want the construction of more dams (reservoirs) in Ethiopia as far as their so-called historical share is not significantly affected. They also know that dams built in Ethiopia along the deep Abay river canyon (1.4 km deep, more than 40 km wide and about 400 km long) could store thousands of billions cubic meter in water volume and could only be mainly used for hydroelectric power generation with lower evaporation loss and lower construction cost per volume. Therefore, instead of fighting for the 74 billion Cubic meter the GERD stores, discussing and negotiating about building additional mega dams that could generate more power and at same time be used as a “water bank” for the three countries that could store hundreds of billions of cubic meters over a longer period could solve the problem in a strategic and peaceful manner. Egypt and Sudan could help Ethiopia in reforestation of the Ethiopian Highlands to increase rainfall and the water discharge in the Abay river. Therefore, since Egypt is expected to support construction of more dams to be built in Ethiopia to use it as water reservoir, down scale the geopolitics and agree a tripartite “Commercial Agreement” with Egypt and Sudan that allows all countries to jointly build more dams on the Abay gorge and buy water from Ethiopia (after using their equitable share).
(2.4) Emergence and rapid expansion of terrorist organizations both local and global ones
The ongoing instability through out Ethiopia and the availability of cheap but sophisticated arms could attract global terrorists to establish their base in Ethiopia and they may try to fill the power vacuum created and the lawlessness as the result of the ongoing civil war.
(3) Geopolitical Positioning and Developmental Issues
- Aggressively develop Tigray with the objective of positioning Tigray to be the center gravity of geopolitical, economic, technological, military, and cultural affairs in the Horn of Africa within the next 20 to 30 years.
- Build a new pan Africa City, which will be the best green city in Africa, around and close to Axum that will ultimately be the capital city of Tigray and the Federated Ethiopia. This city will be a metropolitan city in which all religions are tolerated and accommodated to freely practice their faith and build their own worship and prayer place.
- Continue to build Mekelle to be the best” black African built technology-based e-commerce /commercial city in Africa” modelled after Dubai.
- Liberalize land ownership and allow land private owners (farmers or urban dwellers) to sell their land-based on market value. The government shall be limited to regulation and sales tax collection. The existing land policy has resulted in one corrupted monopoly land supplier (the government) that has been leasing land at an artificially high lease rate while providing very low compensation to the real owners of the land, the farmers. It has also encouraged farmers to stay, in their comfort zone, as life-time subsistence farmers with limited economic growth potential and vulnerable to famine.
- Aggressively invest on education, Information Technology, and e-commerce, mechanized, and irrigated commercial farming (along the valley of the Tekeze river modelled after Israel irrigation technology that could create post-war job opportunity to thousands of youths), mining, tourism development, and industrialization.
- Promote migration of farmers and their families to cities and build big cities throughout Tigray in each district. Target for 80 % all Tigray citizens to live in cities by the year 2050 and totally abolish subsistence farming.
- Build corruption free effective and efficient “private sector driven developmental state economic model”.
- Encourage Tigrayan investors to make their majority of investment in Tigray and to move/build their head offices to/in Tigray while building a business network throughout the region and globally.
- Build corruption/ anti-democracy intolerant culture in Tigray.
o The hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans sacrificed for the struggle including in the ongoing war is going to be in vain unless Tigray succeeds to build a corruption intolerant democratic governance system. As Tigray ignited the 1st torch for the decolonization of the colonized world, it has the potential to build a vibrant democracy that could be a model for the whole Africa. Africans are waiting for that!
o Conduct free and fair competitive elections periodically.
o Free media, respect for individual rights, corruption free and efficient justice system
- Establish a foreign policy anchored on a strategic relationship with USA and Israel but multi-country /economic block alliance with all regional and global players including but not limited to Sudan, Africa, Europe, Great Britain, China, Middle East, Russia, Turkey
- Post war Tigray reconstruction global fund raising/investment attraction campaign
o The ongoing war has promoted Tigray to be a well-known global brand (The Tigray people are now recognized as “war and genocidal victims but victorious, disciplined and law-abiding people”) which could be exploited to the advantage of Tigray. Post war Tigray must develop reconstruction fund raising and investment attraction strategy and conduct an intensive one year long global campaign that may generate tens of billions of dollars targeting individual global citizens and the black people (through social media), developed countries, non-governmental organizations, top 1000 richest individuals, Fortune 1000 companies etc. Ethiopia, Eritrea, and United Arab Emirates must also pay compensation in Billions USD for the human, psychological/moral and material loss they caused to Tigray. Recommended to establish a joint diaspora and local team to lead the fund-raising campaign.
- Tourism potential
o Ethiopian Airlines must build its 2nd hub in Axum and integrate Axum regionally and internationally through multimodal transport
o In coordination to the Tigrayan Orthodox church, display the original Ark of Covenant in a highly secured glass housing in the Mariam Tsion Church or in a different site, and promote it to the whole world to be visited.
o In coordination to the Tigray Muslims authorities, promote Negash as part of Mecca pilgrimage package as “Habesha Land 1st Hijra tour”.
o Tigray as an “Open Museum”, and the inspiration of black’s resistance and freedom could generate hundreds of million dollars per year from the tourism sector.
- Mining potential
o Tigray could organize thousands of post-war unemployed youths by equipping (through leasing or long-term financing) with portable extraction mechanized tools, loaders, pumps and excavators and knowhow to extract minerals in an environmentally friendly and healthy manner such as gold, precious stones etc. Mesfin Engineering could be used to design and build portable mining equipment.
Last but not list I wish Tigrayans, Ethiopians and the Horn Africa stability and peaceful coexistence!
By Ermias Hailu