By Cassandra Lee
The bombing of the Tigrayan people by the central office of the Ethiopian polity is not a new phenomenon. Historians vividly describe how the Tigrayan people lived and warded off the enemy of Ethiopia for a long time. Their involvement in protecting the Amhara region during the 1760-1855 Zemene Mesafint was unmatched. For nearly 100 years Tigray held off many attacks from European powers snooping around, ready to colonize as well as constant battles with invading regional forces. Their thanks for the dedication to the Ethiopian state was never given.
John Young writes that one hundred years after the tumultuous state formation period, in October of 1943 for an entire month the British royal air force at the instruction of Hailie-Selassie aerial bombed the first wave Woyane movement. Including air raids on open market spaces. The Woyane were a movement that was opposing harsh living conditions imposed on them from the Imperial base in Addis Abeba. Ongoing pain and suffering to the people of Tigray was felt through the extortion of land via increased taxes and illegal annexing of Western and Southern parts of Tigray to the Wollo and Gondar administrations.
Again in 1977, the Derg bombed and killed countless numbers of Tigrayans in Abi Adi with over 13 strikes. Later in 1988, the Derg Regime bombed Hawzen, a northeastern town in Tigray, on a busy market day, killing nearly 2000 civilians. During the following 3 years right up until the time the EPRDF was close to victory, the losing Derg regime continued to bomb the civilian populations such as in Sheraro.
Trying to find meaning behind such violent attacks is the objective of this piece.
The current war in Tigray has followed the wartime classic of Strategic bombing. A technique used to try and force the enemy into submission. Designed to demoralize civilians and target the enemy infrastructure. The Ethiopian National Defense force started their operation on the civilians of Tigray in Humera, shelling the area and leaving thousands injured and many forced to flee to neighboring Sudan. The land-attack killed 83 people.
By mid-November Tigray People Liberation Front’s spokesperson, Getachew Reda tweeted that drone technology had been used on the civilian population of Tigray. The southern Tigrayan town of Alamata was hit by drone attacks as Abiy Ahmed was claiming that he was only conducting a law-enforcement mission and “liberating” the town. However, the question always remains, from what? Alongside this attack, the capital city of Mekelle was also struck. The targets were unknown however and two little children perished in the first attack.  This war, not backed by the British Army has instead been sponsored by the Eritrean Government. Egyptian officials and European Diplomats indicated that the Eritrean port of Assab was the base for the early war drone attacks. By January 2021 hundreds of civilians had been targeted by the new-age strategic bombing via drones. This was confirmed by a leaked zoom meeting where an Ethiopian army General stated, “while the war was happening in front we were attacking/bombing them behind the frontlines with drones and we don’t know who is dead and alive.” Highlighting that this war technique was designed to create fear in the people of Tigray and in return, have them side with the illegal federal government take over of Tigray.
Former TPLF member, Zadig Abraha, claimed that the centralized Prosperity Party was acting in the interest of democratic transformation in Tigray. To anyone on the outside, there is an obvious denial of the suffering of the people of Tigray. That adds to the overall strategy to dehumanize the people. The psychological attack that the Prosperity Party are seeking is that the people will quiver in fear and give into their bombing techniques. This is clearly shown through the public address of many officials. In June 2021, the Ethiopian Government replicated the Haile Selassie and Derg special’s and bombed yet another open-air market in Togoga. With no other target but civilians on site, the use of strategic bombing is being deployed by the Ethiopian Army. Although it is an acceptable method of warfare, it is nothing more than an assault on humanity.
During the most recent air raids in Tigray over the last few weeks, the bombing has also gone after what was left of the “EFFORT” companies. To understand the significance of this, one needs to understand what it stands for. In the early days of the EPRDF (Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front) the “Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT)” was created by the Tigray states representative, the TPLF. It was an establishment of privately run companies whose focus was to ensure that the local economy of Tigray was stable, and the goal of social welfare was met during the developing economic phase of the new Ethiopian Federation. Run by members of the TPLF who had all gained master’s in business administration, the enterprise ran businesses in sectors from textile factories, tanneries, marble quarry and industrial plants. Along with this, it shared the stakes in a pharmaceutical firm with a single Amhara private capitalist. 
This initiative was not only reserved for the growth of Tigray, Tiret or Endeavor in Amhara Region, Tumsa in Oromia and Wendo in the Southern Nations, Nationalities’ and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS) were also set up to support the development of their regions. By August 2011 the fund operated 16 companies. And was the target of gossip and non-factual anecdotes from Ethiopian private businessmen and members of the international community (Ethiopian diaspora) that EFFORT was in a “privileged position”. In a study by Gebremichael and Vaughan of the African Power and Politics Program sponsored by UKAid and IrishAid found that this was untrue and perhaps the only privilege of the companies was due to their managers understanding of the government’s commercial plans, however their bidding for space and credit was met with huge difficulties. To mitigate corruption in the 2010 elections the endowment funds were prohibited from donating to election campaigns. Yet, despite this research, the Ethiopian Diaspora Media continued to sensationalize the role of EFFORT and placed particular importance on the “othering” of the Tigrayan people.
By November 2020, the paranoia of this external force had leaked into the deep-seeded hate for Tigrayan people amongst the federal government. The Ethiopian government illegally froze all of EFFORTs’ assets and claiming without any evidence that 34 subsidiaries were “participating in financing ethnic-based violence, acts of terrorism, connection with the TPLF, which seeks to overthrow the constitutional order.” which is seen as a deliberate attempt to weaken the economy of Tigray. One could argue, as Abiy Ahmed and representatives have that this is only part of the economic liberalization program. However, the mere fact that afterwards, many reports of looting throughout Tigray of the factories shows the hypocrisy in the government’s “official line.”
So far it is known that the Mesebo Cement factory was bombed, Sur Construction and Mesfin Engineering targeted (in recent air raids), Almeda Textile Factory was looted and trashed in December 2020 and then again bombed in October 2021. TransEthiopia ceased operating in December 2020 and their trucks held in Djibouti, although the Ethiopian Government state they were parked there illegally and financing the war, this is disputed by local drivers who were told to hand their keys in and that they would not be welcome in Djibouti, the whereabouts of many still unknown. Addis Pharmaceuticals was destroyed and looted.
All of this evidence and destruction to EFFORT points to a very sincere motive, that the Ethiopian government’s whole objective was to ensure that Tigrayan’s had no mode of income and no way to raise their own economy. It appears that they have been punished for the success of EFFORT and the catastrophized lines of “theft” by the ideological opposing media has failed to acknowledge the hard work and effective management. As it has been shown, all the coalition states had the opportunity to thrive under the economic policies of the EPRDF, so perhaps accepting failure is just too much a humble task of the Ethiopian political and so-called “business elite.” And that in their eyes Tigray must be sent back to the 1990s as Isayas Aferwerki once stated on his locally controlled and state-owned media.
The final reason that one can come up with for violently attacking the people of Tigray who are already without much-needed supplies once more is that the ENDF is just simply losing on the battlefield. Commentary and deep analysis into the current situation from Ahmed Hassen and Simon Rynn of RUSI suggest that the TDF-OLA coalition are likely to seek victory. Many videos on social media are emerging, suggesting that the Tigray Defense Force is capturing thousands of ENDF personnel.
One does not deny the suffering of the Amhara and Afar civilians due to the encroaching war. And as a person who respects the life of all humans, it is heart-breaking to see the war that has torn Tigray apart, bleed into the neighboring states but the sad reality is that the Ethiopian Government left no room for peace.
In many statements made by the TPLF even prior to the war, they have stated and asked for an inclusive political dialogue with the Prosperity Party to discuss the key issues in their new change to the ideology that was the backbone of the federation. It is only plausible to suggest that Abiy Ahmed is losing his support from those around him and in a last-ditch attempt to gain back control and support, he is boasting his wins and hiding his losses both in the battlefield and in the hearts of the people. This would not be a first time his ruling elite have done so, as the Ethiopian General, Bacha Debelle stated after the incredible defeat in Mekelle, in June that the AFP captured on record  that it was all “photoshopped”. Lying again to the public of Ethiopia.
 Henze, P. B. 2000. Layers of Time. A History of Ethiopia. Hurst and Company, London
 Young, J. 1994. Peasants and Revolution in Ethiopia: Tigray 1975-1989. Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
 Young, J. Development and Change in Post-Revolutionary Tigray. The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 35, No. 1. Cambridge University Press.
 Gebremichael, M & Vaughan, S. Rethinking business and politics in Ethiopia: The role of EFFORT, the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray. Africa Power and Politics Program, London.