Tuesday, August 17, 2021

RLPB 611. Ethiopia: TPLF-OLA Move to Escalate War

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 611 | Wed 18 Aug 2021
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ETHIOPIA: TPLF-OLA MOVE TO ESCALATE WAR
- praying to avert a Christian Crisis
by Elizabeth Kendal

BACKGROUND

In the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War, the US backed the Afghan mujahideen in a proxy war against the Soviets who, in 1979, had been invited into Afghanistan to help Afghanistan's Communist government put down an Islamic insurgency [see RLPB 600 (2 June)]. Similarly, the US backed the Marxist, ethnic nationalist and separatist Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in its war against the Marxist, Soviet-backed, Amhara-dominated Derg (military junta). In 1989, as Soviet power unravelled, the Soviets withdrew their forces from Afghanistan handing victory to the mujahideen. In 1991, as the Soviet Union disintegrated, Moscow's numerous Cold War partners - including Ethiopia's Derg - lost their main source of foreign support, handing victory to their enemies. Unfortunately for Ethiopia, the regime which replaced the Derg - the US-backed TPLF-dominated Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front - was no better than the regime it replaced. The TPLF spent the three decades in power enlarging Tigray (at Amhara's expense), enriching itself (at the nation's expense) and silencing dissent through incarceration, torture and terror.

Driven from power by more than two years of paralysing anti-government protests (December 2015 to February 2018) - led by the Oromo youth movement Qeeroo - the TPLF retreated to Tigray to plot its revenge. Since then, the TPLF has been actively and vengefully fomenting rebellion, inducing chaos, and supporting separatism and terrorism. The TPLF's 3 November 2020 midnight attack on a military camp of the Northern Command in Tigray, where it slaughtered ethnic Amhara soldiers 'in their pyjamas', was nothing short of a declaration of war against the Ethiopian government [See RLPB 576, Collapse Would Trigger Christian Crisis, 18 Nov 2020]. In May, PM Abiy declared the TPLF and the Oromo Liberation Army (also known as OLF-Shane) as terrorist groups. Then, on 28 June, under immense and threatening pressure from the US Biden administration, PM Abiy declared a unilateral ceasefire in Tigray, enabling the TPLF to regain control of the Tigray capital Mekelle.

In the 1980s, during the Cold War, the US backed the Afghan mujahideen and the TPLF as proxies against the Soviets. Today, the US backs its old friends in the TPLF in support of its ally in the Middle East, Egypt. This decision - which makes zero sense geo-strategically - could precipitate a Christian crisis of monumental proportions.

This background is important because the TPLF, flush with billions of dollars of stolen funds, has been waging a major, professional, information-warfare campaign against the Abiy Government, the most popular and promising government Ethiopia has had in generations. It is pure propaganda and an inversion of the truth - and Western media has swallowed it whole.

For a more detailed analysis see:
'Ethiopia's Future Hangs in the Balance,'
Religious Liberty Monitoring, 11 July 2021. 

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ETHIOPIA: TPLF-OLA MOVE TO ESCALATE WAR
- praying to avert a Christian Crisis

On 28 June, after more than seven months of brutal war, Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed yielded to US pressure and declared a unilateral ceasefire in Tigray, enabling the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) to regain control of the Tigray capital Mekelle. However, the TPLF did not want peace. In fact, despite its origins as an ethnic-nationalist separatist organisation, the TPLF did not even want Tigray. Instead, having started the war, the TPLF rejected the ceasefire, consolidated, and in violation of the terms of the ceasefire, advanced beyond the borders of Tigray. 

Bet Medhane Alem rock church, Lalibela.
 
In mid-July, TPLF forces - now going by the name, Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) - invaded Afar Region in a failed attempt to capture the highway that links Addis Ababa to ports on the Red Sea. They also invaded Amhara Region and on 5 August seized control of the historic city of Lalibela - a UNESCO heritage site, famed for its ancient rock-hewn churches. More than 300,000 civilians have been displaced in Afar and Amhara Regions and hundreds killed. Delivery of aid has been disrupted and it has been confirmed that the TPLF is forcibly recruiting children as soldiers. On Tuesday 10 August PM Abiy called for 'all capable Ethiopians who are of age to join the Defence Forces, Special Forces and militias' to halt the advance of 'the treasonous and terrorist TPLF organisation and the machinations of foreign hands once and for all'. The Abiy government's unilateral ceasefire is officially over.

On Wednesday 11 August the Oromo Liberation Army (also known as OLF-Shane; the group responsible for numerous massacres of Amhara Christians throughout Oromia Region) announced it had forged a military alliance with the TPLF. The groups will share battlefield information and fight in parallel to overthrow the government militarily. Whilst the TPLF has been using OLF-Shane as a proxy in Oromia for the past two years, the relationship is now formal. The groups also claim to be working on a political alliance. Meanwhile, the TPLF's boast that it is making great gains on the battlefield, is nothing but a lie. The TPLF may have had momentum in July, but according to Gregory Copley, President of the International Strategic Studies Association, 'The tide of war on the ground has already moved in favour of the Ethiopian government...' (6 August). What this means is that the TPLF will require more rebellion and more foreign assistance if it is to achieve its goal. As such, we can expect the TPLF and OLA will move to ramp up the propaganda so they might pave the way for their allies - in particular, the US Biden administration - to join their battle against the most popular and promising government Ethiopia has had in generations.

Is the World’s Next Missions Movement in Ethiopia?
By Jack Bryan, Christianity Today, 21 June 2019
 

US-allied Egypt, the Sudanese military (which is a front for Sudan's Islamist deep state) and jihadists everywhere want Ethiopia weakened and even destroyed. The collapse of Ethiopia would precipitate a Christian crisis of monumental proportions and herald the decline of another of the world's most rich and ancient Christian cultures. But make no mistake; the Ethiopian Church is not just historic! On the contrary, having been refined through suffering and revived through prayer, the Ethiopian Church is alive and dynamic with great missionary vision and energy. Muslims are coming to Christ; elites with great influence (such as the Prime Minister) are coming to Christ. Churches are being planted and missionaries are being sent throughout Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, as well as into the Sahel and among the Fulani, and into Asia, Europe and the Americas. Please pray: 'For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.' (Ephesians 6:12 ESV)


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* intervene in Ethiopia and for Ethiopians, that the nation might be blessed to be a blessing to others; may God grace our brother Prime Minister Abiy with wisdom and strength as he seeks to lead the people into a whole new era of unity, peace and prosperity; and may the Lord keep PM Abiy, his wife and children, safe from attacks that would threaten their lives.

* thwart all evil plots designed to foment rebellion, unleash chaos, destroy security, perpetuate lies, bring down the government and fragment the state to the detriment of everyone in Ethiopia and throughout the wider region; may God's good plans for Ethiopia prevail.

* redeem this crisis to draw many more Ethiopians to Christ and to further refine and revive Ethiopia's ancient and mission-focused Church.

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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REBELS MOVE TO ESCALATE WAR IN ETHIOPIA

On 28 June Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed declared a unilateral ceasefire in Tigray. But, having started the war, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rejected the ceasefire, consolidated and invaded neighbouring Afar and Amhara Regions, displacing some 300,000 civilians, killing hundreds, and disrupting the delivery of humanitarian aid. The ceasefire is over, and experts insist the momentum is now with government forces. Doubtless the TPLF will respond to military loses by ramping up its propaganda against the Abiy government, so as to help its foreign allies legitimise an intervention. On 11 August the Oromo Liberation Army (also known as OLF-Shane, the group responsible for numerous massacres of Amhara Christians) announced it had forged an alliance with the TPLF to escalate the war together. Please pray.

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Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF) and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).

See www.ElizabethKendal.com