The 33rd Conference of the African Union (AU) that just finished its deliberations here in Addis Ababa was a milestone in the sense that it helped the international public make the distinction between facts and fiction as far as recent developments in Ethiopia are concerned. Some of the fake news that were circulating in the international media could be outlined as follows. Fake news number one was about the TPLF standing on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for a final push to overthrow the government or retake the power it lost three years ago.
In the fact, the narrative of the TPLF marching on Addis started when the terror group was 600 km away from the capital. Then the fake narrative continued to grow as the group occupied one town after another on its imaginary way to Addis Ababa. The military leaders of the group were so bold as to declare the war was over and that there is no chance for negotiating a cease fire since there was no functioning government in Addis Ababa.
Looking back at those dark days when the TPLF was winning the war on the cyber space and losing it on the ground, we now realize that the objective of the terrorist group was not to march on Addis but to occupy the towns on its way, ransack them and take its loots to Tigray in order to pacify the population under its control by providing it with looted supplies. The other objective was of course to further impoverish the Afar and Amhara regions in a vengeful move aimed at undermining the resistance to its advance.
By the end of 2021, the TPLF had lost all political credibility and was looked as a bunch of highwaymen out there to loot, kill and ransack entire regions against popular resistance. In 1991, the people of Amhara showed the TPLF the way to Addis Ababa and collaborated by showing the way to Addis and putting up no resistance to its advance.
In 2021, the people stood on the way of TPLF brutal advance and put up stiff resistance against it that finally determined the devastating outcome of its adventurous incursions. There was a serious misreading of the military and political situation on the part of the TPLF that was fighting against the troops of a legitimate and elected government that had all the rights to stop its advances by any means.
The balance of forces and the military technology at the disposal of the TPLF and the federal forces were also asymmetric. The TPLF is a ragged band of barbaric and hopeless fighters out to loot property, kill innocent farmers and rape girls and elderly women. It fought the worst form of trench warfare and destroyed everything on its way. By doing this, it made it difficult to make its retreat in the face of superior federal forces almost impossible. It could not regroup to wage any of its brutal attacks. As far as weapon technology was concerned, the TPLF fought with AK-47 in hand and light artillery fire while the federal forces had complete control of the air space and used the latest drone technology to crush the fleeing remnants of the group’s bands of terrorists within days.
The TPLF made tactical and strategic blunders that forced it to pay high prices and led to the complete routing of the group. The remnants of the group retreated into Tigray and could not return for another day of fighting. The fact that the TPLF shelled border towns nearby Afar was only an empty bravado to show that it had not lost its capacity for fighting and had no tactical significance as the objective was to kill as many Afar people as possible and nothing else. As the TPLF lost the decisive battles, its propaganda machinery nearly ground to a halt because it has no substantial ground for lying let alone tell the truth of its defeat. Instead, it resorted to its usual whitewashing and denying the facts on the ground as if they did not exist.
The international chorus of its fake news producers also fell silent because they were forced to admit that the group was losing one battle after another and was only living in the nightmare of its previous propaganda campaigns. Its vision of marching on Addis remained a big, empty illusion that earned it only shame and humiliation. Subsequent to these developments, the Western media chose to keep silent. They had not even an iota of professional integrity to report the wanton destructions and killings going on in Amhara and Afar regions against soft targets and innocent civilians.
Western embassies and international organizations whose main sources of information were also the fake news media outlets were calling for the quickest withdrawal of their citizens and their staffs refused to acknowledge the truth on the ground. Facts on the gr4ound proved that Ethiopia was not Afghanistan, Addis Ababa was not Kabul. and the TPLF was not the Taliban. Events continued to turn in favor of the Ethiopian forces and a few weeks afterwards the Western powers started to rethink their positions on the conflict. It is usual for Western powers to side the winning party in any African conflict. Their attempt to portray the victory by the federal forces as genocide against the people of Tigray backfired and they were forced to tone down their hostile rhetoric against Ethiopia.
In the process, the African Union and African embassies in Addis Ababa stood their grounds and refused to leave the capital because they realized that events on the ground were changing the dynamics of the conflict and that the aggressors were on the run and the Ethiopian forces were chasing them wherever they could find them. The blurred lines between truth and fake news started to clear and the truth emerged as bright as the morning sun. Addis Ababa was quiet, vibrant as usual and its resident as vigilant as ever. Life continued as normal and the fake news proved to be nothing other than fabricated news circulating on the terrorist websites.
British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill is often quoted as saying that “literature was news that remained news”. By the same token we may perhaps say that fake news was news that remained simply fake. Why did the West bought fake news while it has a long history of media integrity and honesty? The answer to this question looks simple: they want the media to defend their interests by hook or by crook. during WWII, the Nazi army used fake news to misinform, confuse and demoralize its enemies. It had a huge propaganda machinery never seen in history before. Yet it did not stop the truth from making itself visible after a while.
As the fake news about Ethiopian “genocide” against Tigray cleared another fake news took its place. That was the fake news about the siege of Tigray and the punishment of the people with hunger as food aid was allegedly used to promote the objective of the conflict on the Ethiopian side. This too was exposed as falsehood as it was proven that there was no siege whatsoever and if there is any it was the TPLF that was manufacturing it and using it in its war of falsehood against the Ethiopian people.
Whether they liked it or not, the Western powers and the friends of the terrorist TPLF have been forced to swallow the bitter pill of truth about the military situation or the post-conflict reality. The convening of the 33rd AU summit of heads of states and governments was a turning point in the sense that it proved all calamitous news and predictions of apocalyptic events and a kind of Armageddon in the making all wrong. The summit convened in the midst of fake news and scary predictions all produced by the deranged minds of the scaremongers and cynics who lost the previous social media war in the face of the irresistible truth about the Ethiopian survival as a united and promising entity and not as a crumbling polity as its enemies had wished.
The 33rd AU conference has indeed helped the fogs that enveloped most of the truth about Africa to clear. Africa in the Western media is often portrayed as a continent of wars, military takeovers and grinding poverty and hopeless life. The 33rd AU summit came out strongly against unconstitutional military takeovers in Africa and condemned the mercenaries that would try to stage military coups perhaps with the encouragement of parties that are dreaming to see an Africa victim of political and social chaos.
The fake news about Africa lacking unity of purpose was also exposed as groundless as the countries agreed on all the issues that are affecting the continent and promised to further consolidate their unity and solidarity in the face of aggressive internal and external forces. By doing this they proved that Africa is not the hopeless continent that many in the Western media want it to be but a vibrant, promising and rising one from South Africa to Egypt, from Ethiopia to Nigeria. The inevitable advance of Africa’s economic integrity was reconfirmed and the fake news about the lack of solidarity among African countries was disproved as another lie emerging from the dark corners of the international social media. In fact Africa’s economic and political unity by 2063 known as Agenda 2063 is on the right track although more vigorous actions are needed to advance it with additional momentum.
Fake news often portray Africa as a continent living on borrowed time, that it has no capacity to fight the corona virus pandemic on its own…etc. The fact that the CDC Africa has made it clear it plan to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines on the continent with the collaboration of the private sector and the African Development Bank is another move that belies the groundless allegation that Africa is at the mercy of the rich world as far as fighting the pandemic is concerned. There are many other fake news that the 33rd AU summit has disproved as baseless. There is an Ethiopian saying best illustrates this point. The truth and dawn make themselves clear as day follows night.
Fake news producers often portray Africa as a continent that cannot develop its natural resources on its own. They always brandished the specter of Western aid as a panacea. They imposed punishing sanctions against African countries that stood their grounds and chose their own path to self-reliant economic development. Looking at the economic giants like Nigeria and South Africa, as well as Egypt and to the emerging economic powerhouses like Ethiopia and many other African countries, it is obvious fake news producers are deliberately undermining the continent’s efforts in order to turn them into markets of Western goods and services. A continent that is building one of the ten biggest in dams in the world, i.e. the GERD, a continent that is fast catching up on global ICT developments, and most of all a continent that is supplying the world’s precious raw materials for the production of electronic and military technology …etc. cannot be portrayed as lacking what it takes to become a big continent. More than one billion Africans, mostly young and educated, are witness to the Western lies about Africa’s backwardness. While Western powers witnessing declining demography and aging workforce and increasingly rely on imported manpower, Africa’s human and natural resources are untapped and fueling a rising and confident continent that is set to become a great economic power like Asia. It is only a matter of time before the West will be forced to accept these truths. and the 33rd AU summit has sent the message: no force on earth can stop a united and integrated Africa from living its dream of full independence and economic prosperity. If the Western powers need a deadline for this vision, they have only to wait for 2063.
BY MULUGETA GUDETA
THE ETHIOPIAN FRIDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2022