The Rise of an Eritrean Clique
From the Womb of TPLF

By Abiy Araia
July 2001

A message from Ethiomedia - Abiy Araia was a former TPLF rebel. He was also staff member of Wogahta, a Tigrinya-weekly newspaper banned by the TPLF regime. Abiy has written a short history about TPLF from inception to its current crisis. The writer, and several other former TPLF fighters who know the story, say the rise of Shaebia from the womb of TPLF was a conspiracy Meles Zenawi and Sebhat Nega engineered 18 years ago. Facts? Continue reading.

The document exposes:

(a) How Eritreans (Shaebia) managed to infiltrate Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) after Meles Zenawi spent in 1975-1976 almost a year in Asmara, Eritrea, under the direct help of Isayas Afwerki and other Shaebia leaders. The time was when the new Derg military took over, and Ethiopian troops fought streets battles in Asmara.
(b) How Meles almost a year later joined TPLF, and the dispatch by Isayas Afwerki's of Eritean rebels such as Mussie and Yemane Kidane (Jamaica) to TPLF, and how Jamaica joined TPLF under the orders of Isayas Afwerki, with Jamaica's mission to closely monitor TPLF activities and report findings to Isayas.
(c) How Meles became the head of cadre school of TPLF, brainwashed TPLF cadres with Shaebia propaganda, and paved his way to grabbing power through political intrigues and murders that spanned 18 years. Today TPLF members in Ethiopia are filled with sorrow that their organization was annexed by Eritrean agents who lived inside TPLF. As a result, the TPLF members, whether in the Ethiopian Army or in TPLF as officials, members and cadre positions have awakened from their long sleep. The Eritrean agents who never had any meaningful role in their long, arduous struggle, will never remain in power, and go on tearing Ethiopia. There is a new-found sense of awareness that may soon materialize in action to bring back TPLF to its formidable organizational strength. The promise is they will bring back TPLF - by bringing the Eritrean agents now controlling state power in Ethiopia to justice!

We urge Ethiopian independent media (whether web sites or radio stations) to translate and broadcast this historical document in Amharic, Oromiffa, Tigrinya and other languages so that the Ethiopian people would have a better insight into the bitter truth that the Prime Minister and his closest Eritrean-linked individuals are the disguised missionaries of death and destruction dispatched to Ethiopia by one of Ethiopia's deadly enemies, Eritrea.

"Information is Power" - so goes today's catchword, and this information is presented so as all concerned would make informed decisions. The Ethiopian patriots have spent hundreds of working hours to research and present this material to enhance the struggle of Ethiopians for a better life. It looks at last the TPLF members are realizing that the man who thought was their leader was their worst enemy who did everything to destroy not only Tigray or TPLF, but also our country Ethiopia, who is now tied at the stake to be a pariah nation surrounded by tiny, and yet hostile nations. -Ed.

The Formation of TPLF and the Defection of Meles in Eritrea

It was in January 1975 when the first TPLF combatants (Siye, Abay and Awalom) set out to an EPLF training camp in Eritrea when they were forced to make their stay in Asmara. At that time, the new Derg government troops on the one hand and EPLF and ELF on the other were caught up in streets battles in the city of Asmara.

The situation got worse when the TPLF combatants arrived in Asmara because the Derg was conducting a house-to-house searches for any infiltrators. The measure was catch and kill. The TPLF combatants had taken shelter in one Tigrian woman's hotel. But as the condition got worse, the owner of the hotel scared for her life and ordered the TPLF combatants leave the place immediately. They left. Meanwhile, Meles Zenawi (Wedi-Asmera) was spending time with his Eritrean friends and had no problem of food and lodging problems. He had enough necessities for himself. The others were hidden, had no food, water or light. For days, they survived on tomatoes only, no bread no injera.

Given the tense situation and the grim consequences they would face if they were caught by the Derg, the TPLF combatants decided that they should break through the Derg security and go for training. They sent their decision to Meles Zenawi so that he would join them. Instead, Meles said he was not ready to take the risk and would stay behind in Asmara. They tried to get him out of the city with them but Meles resisted strongly, and even warned that he wouldn't like to be seen with any Tigrian.

Without Meles, all the TPLF combatants (Seye, Abay, Awalom, Aregawi, and Agazi) crossed the Derg's security checkpoints and reached their destination: a training camp. In another direction, Yohannes Gebremedhin (guerre de nom Walta, the brother of slain security minister Kinfe Gebremedhin), Atsbaha Dagnew, and Shewit joined their comrades at the EPLF training camp. However, the traitor Meles at the most critical time abandoned the heroes of Tigray who founded TPLF, and chose to stay behind in Asmara with his EPLF comrades.

He lived in Asmara or somewhere in Eritrea with EPLF for almost a year and joined TPLF sometime in mid-1976. By the time Meles joined TPLF, the heroes had finished their training, moved to Tigrai and founded TPLF and strengthened their struggle in Tigrai. After a thorough debate, the TPLF combatants allowed Meles to join the struggle. They made a mistake to allow the defector to join TPLF. They allowed him without any serious reflection on his defection and suspicion of his contact with EPLF.

It was at that time that the mission of the agent began. During his one-year stay with Shaebia, Meles had finalized his training how to control all future activities of Tigrians and their organization - TPLF. Moreover, when Shaebia sent its combatant by the name of Mussie to TPLF, the contact was performed through Meles, and other Tigrian-Eritreans who were living in Eritrea.

The other Tigrian combatants - Siye, Awalom, Agazi, Dagnew, Yohannes, Ahferom, Kelebet, Seyoum and others numbering about 20 finished their training and headed toward Tigrai, there was another Shaebia combatant, Yemane Kidane (a.k.a. Jamaica) who was directly assigned by Isayas Afwerki. Jamaica himself was openly saying his duty in TPLF was to "follow up all the TPLF movement and to report to EPLF," and was doing that as if he believed in the just struggle of the TPLF and liked to stay with it." When I was a TPLF combatant, I myself asked Jamaica on two different occasions why as an Eritrean chose to join TPLF instead of ELF or EPLF. His response was the same: "I was sent by Isayas to check on the ins and outs of TPLF movement and report to EPLF."

(Coming Next: "Who Was Teclu Hawaz"? Teclu was the first brilliant military and intelligence chief who created the security of the TPLF. He was among the most beloved TPLF leaders and army commanders. He invented the strong Public Intelligence (PI) System that kept TPLF strong. He was profoundly opposed to Shaebia, as an intelligent chief, he was aware of the mercenary role of Meles and his being a Shaebia implant. In TPLF history, it was only the PI inventor Teklu Hawaz and Kinfe Gebremedhin who successfully managed the security system of the 26-year-old TPLF. Both were murdered by Meles.)

When the sudden split of TPLF surfaced in March last year, however, TPLF couldn't but take millions by surprise. Unexpectedly, it was said, a storm of sharp differences wrecked the TPLF leadership. Are the differences a sudden turn of events or the climax and final eruption of a political volcano that had been lying low beneath the surface for 18 years?

Though this and other similar questions should have been answered by any one of the TPLF leaders, this writer would also like to acknowledge that he had an opportunity to build very close ties with TPLF leaders for quite a considerable period of time during the pre- and post-1991 TPLF era right until TPLF's downfall under the conspiracy of a class of Eritrean last year, and believes he has adequate experience to identify the ground-breaking political intrigues that squeezed the authentic Ethiopian blood and flesh out of TPLF - leaving it in the hands of authentic Eritrean agents who shed tears of blood when Ethiopian Defense Forces tore through Shaebia trenches and advanced toward the Eritrean capital to punish the criminals once and for all.

The genesis of the current crisis that struck open the hard-nut TPLF in two mortal groups could well be traced back to 1982 - i.e. eight years after TPLF was born in the wilderness of western Tigrai. Before presenting the secret plot that was conceived in 1982, however, let me introduce readers to the brief history of the formation of TPLF.

The first Congress of TPLF was conducted in 1978-'79. The Congress formally elected:

a) Sebhat Nega - Chairman
b) Aregawi Berhe - Vice Chairman and Chief of the Military Command
c) Giday Zerazion - Deputy Secretary
d) Abay Tsehaye - Second Deputy Secretary
e) Seyoum Mesfin - Secretary of Foreign Affairs
f) Tewolde Woldemariam - Chief of Regional Organization
g) Gebru Asrat - Chief of Internal administration
h) Siye Abraha - Deputy Army Commander and other TPLF central committee members led the organization from 1978 till 1983.


After reviewing TPLF accomplishments, the congress once again elected the following as TPLF leaders: a) Giday Zerazion - Chairman, TPLF
b) Aregawi Berhe - Vice Chair and Army Commander
c) Sebhat Nega - Deputry Secretary
d) The rest held their previous positions, while alternate central committee member and political instructor of TPLF cadres, Meles Zenawi, was promoted to full central committee membership.

In an organization that was overflowing with renowned army commanders who were feared and respected even by their enemies, Meles Zenawi and Sebhat Nega.

It was here at the Second TPLF Congress of 1983 the major criminal plot was conceived, and after 18 grueling years of secrecy, burst to the fore in March last year. Though Meles was a junior, militarily insignificant but an ardent political cadre for Eritrean independence even prior to joining the central committee, no one had taken him for his Eritrean passion seriously when he made it to the central committee of TPLF.

In spite of Meles' persuasion, however, the political stand of TPLF on the question of Eritrea was stated as: "TPLF takes the question of Eritrea as the right of the Eritrean people for a just solution to their problem. However, there is no historical prerogative for TPLF to preoccupy itself with the Question of Eritrea and its resolutions."

Meles, however, continued to propagate for Eritrean independence, and occasionally was heard lamenting and accusing the organization: "The TPLF stand on Eritrea lacks clarity and is no different than even opposing the Question of Eritrea altogether." Subsequently, using his new leverage as a central committee member, Meles embarked on weaving the threads of his conspiracy secretly.

As a central committee member, Meles quickly established warm ties with the top individuals of the TPLF leadership. He cemented bonds with Sebhat Nega, who was both former chairman of the organization and had blood relations with. Sebhat Nega was a weak, self-centered individual, and Meles was capable of using Sebhat as his partner to advance his evil plans for the future.

The coordinated plot unveiled its first stage this way. One day Sebhat Nega said he found a letter signed by Aregawi Berhe and Giday Zerazion, and the letter read:

"Political cadre instructor and Central Committee member Meles Zenawi and Deputy Politburo Secretary Abay Tsehaye are spreading malicious ideas with a hidden agenda to destroy TPLF. The politburo believes such a dangerous move should be nipped in the bud, and this should be done by putting the two culprits to death."

Sebhat said he found the letter that bears "death punishments" in the office of Giday Zerazion, and he said he had in private warned Meles and Abay Tsehaye. To lend credibility to the political drama, Meles was groomed to act in a very disappointed and shocked manner, like conveying to others the message "how can I deserve this!"

One of those who were supposedly to be killed - in Sebhat Nega's plot - was Abay Tsehaye who believed Sebhat and Meles Zenawi's hearsay without an iota of doubt. In this case, the group with the hidden agenda grew to three.

With the three being the main activists, the second stage of the highly coordinated conspiracy was launched. The "information" was secretly shared with the rest of the Central Committee members with the exception of Giday and Aregawi. Subsequently, an insidious smear campaign against the TPLF Chairman (Giday) and the Military Chief (Aregawi) was launched without letup. The majority of the cc members were made sure they were convinced, and since the remaining were molded by Meles Zenawi, there was no problem at all that the Sebhat-Meles scandal would fail from hitting its target.

Once they protagonists made sure that most central committee members are on their side, a third regular congress, which normally convenes every four years, was brought forward by two years, and Giday and Aregawi - though ranking officials of the rebel organization - were taken by surprise when they were informed that the third regular congress would be held shortly. Giday and Aregawi were seen baffled as they were not sure about what was going on behind them within the seemingly stable organization. Apparently, the two (Aregawi and Giday) had asked all members of the Central Committee why a regular Congress was needed two years ahead of the four-year-term.

Their questions were expected, but an official response organized by Meles Zenawi was already on the table. Meles Zenawi's official response included the following points that he said dictated for the untimely convention of the TPLF Congress:

a) Since we've been a clandestine Marxist-Leninist organization and there is a need to go public that we are one of such;
b) Since a trend of being self-centered and "pragmatist" (Meles inserted the English jargon "pragmatist" while speaking in Tigrinya) is setting in the life of comrades and such dangerous trend is threatening the noble ideals many comrades sacrificed their lives for;
c) Since some of us are guiding ourselves by the assumption that "no one cares for the organization better than I do," and this "imperialist" view need to be corrected;
d) Since our political stand with those political groups around us is not distinct, and there is a need to be transparent and make our political stance clear;
e) Those problems cited above were created because our organization has no party of its own, and the need to found a party that would guide us into the future.

Meles Zenawi also addressed the question that came from the two: "Why was such an agenda hidden from us." Meles said there was nothing secret about taking such a necessary action. He said the call for an early convention of the Congress was necessitated by prevailing circumstances that, if ignored, would endanger the survival of TPLF. "It should be made clear," Meles added, "that these are plans I am announcing to everyone of you for the first time."

Though the Congress started and a heated debated was conducted, the plot the Meles side had woven was so pervasive that counter-arguments coming from the Aregawi Berhe side failed to get any support. Most members have been pervaded by the anti-Aregawi and anti-Giday Zerazion smear campaign Sebhat Nega and Meles and their backers have been conducting secretly for a considerable period of time.

Since most members had no idea of what was going on, they decided to stick to what looked the 'majority' and this deprived Giday and Aregawi - though instilled with clear political views - of support and were rendered an easy prey to the political onslaught of the Sebhat-Meles group. They stood without any one supporting them. The congress decided for their removal. The accusations Meles poured on Aregawi and Giday served as a solid foundation for the latter's smooth removal on the one hand, and ensuring Meles' ascendancy to power, on the other. All the while, there was an individual by the name of Teklu Hawaz who was speaking out against the hidden agenda of the Meles-Sebhat side. Teklu was a brave and brilliant person who stood up and strongly warned that the Meles strategy was a secret design aimed at grabbing power and there was no dictating environment that would make the Congress accept all the changes Meles was propagating as a necessity for the survival of TPLF. But Teklu was one voice and his vehement opposition and ridicule to Meles Zenawi only landed him in jail. Later, a statement was issued saying that Teklu Hawaz was killed while trying to escape. The story of Teklu Hawaz ended there.

Once the powerful men of TPLF were successfully removed thanks to the conspiracy of Meles and Sebhat Nega, the Question of Eritrea for the first time started to dominate all agendas and TPLF issued its clear stand on Eritrea. Meles has been seriously opposing TPLF for lacking a clear stand on Eritrea. But after the purges and the fall of TPLF into his hands, he realized a condition conducive to creating a policy favoring Eritrea was in the offing. Accordingly, the Congress ended by electing the following into the TPLF leadership:

1. Meles Zenawi - Secretary General, Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray (MLLT)
2. Abay Tsehaye - Deputy MLLT Secretary General
3. Siye Abraha - Commander of the Army
4. Tewolde Woldemariam - Political Commissariat
5. Seyoum Mesfin - Secretary of Foreign Affairs
6. Gebru Asrat - Chief Administrator
7. Sebhat Nega - Chief Social Services
8. Kinfe Gebremedhin - Chief of Security

July 1985: the Rise of Meles opposed by Eritrea's Shaebia

At the 2nd TPLF Congress, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (a.k.a. Shaebia) had expected that the Question of Eritrea would be adopted as TPLF's principal objective, i.e. fighting for the secession of Eritrea. However, the question received little more than a scant attention and EPLF was resentful of TPLF, particularly the Chairman Giday Zerazion and Aregawi Berhe, the two leaders who were fired at the 3rd Congress that catapulted Meles Zenawi from an obscure and junior political cadre into the first top of the TPLF leadership.

At the 3rd Congress, TPLF adopted the Question of Eritrea as its Number One agenda. It was an outright victory for Shaebia. However, Shaebia issued a statement opposing the dismissal of Aregawi and Giday Zerazion. Such Eritrean condemnation of TPLF which had "elected" the profoundly pro-Eritrea political activist and mentor Meles Zenawi created the impression among the disgruntled members of TPLF central committee members that Aregawi and Giday had closer ties with the Eritrean group without their knowledge. In reality though the opposite was true. EPLF was rest assured that the fall of TPLF into Meles Zenawi's hands was a certainty that EPLF had its own Eritrean replica in the name of TPLF.

It was a design that most TPLF fighters helped change their attitude and trust Meles as their "Ethiopian" leader because Eritrea's Shaebia has depicted him as Eritrea's enemy in through a statement the Eritrean rebel group issued in "support" of the avowedly anti-Eritrean TPLF leaders Aregawi Berhe and Giday Zerazion. Once the latter two were purged, TPLF hoisted high the "Eritrean Cause" as its banner. Meles Zenawi's motto became a warning to all: "Those who are able, let them march forward (with Meles); those who can't, let them try to catch up (with Meles); the resenting elements, let them face the sword!" (the word "resenting" was a metaphor used for those who were opposed to the new leader - Meles Zenawi - and must be eliminated by the Stalinist sword Meles owned in the name of TPLF).

Thereafter, TPLF fighters and the people who live in TPLF-controlled areas of northern Ethiopia lived chanting one slogan like a national anthem: "MLLT trenches are unassailable!" The MLLT "anthem" was echoed down the years until Meles ascended to power in May 1991, and all of a sudden, MLLT disappeared like a rush.

Leaving the issue of MLLT here, let me take you to occurrences that surfaced in connenction with the independence of Eritrea in 1991. Without any preconditions, TPLF or EPRDF took the Eritrean issue as a just cause and both gave an outright and overwhelming support for the accession of the former Ethiopian province of Eritrea to a sovereign independent nation.

According to EPRDF:

"Since we have passed through war, we know what war looks like. When we say this, it should be made clear that there is war to crush justice, and there is war to defend justice. Therefore, in the war that is waged to take away justice, there is nothing to gain except destruction. Outside of this, there are groups that say they know what is best for the people and nothing should be decided outside of their decision. We say to them: Good luck!"

Meles Zenawi openly declared that there is nothing to be done than to support the secession of Eritrea in its entirety. Therefore, Meles deployed Ethiopian resources and gave his full time for conduct of the Eritrean Referendum. Once the TPLF-EPLF organized "Referendum" was held, Meles finalized his second chapter of conspiracy and entered another one.

The conspiracies being woven by Meles Zenawi broadened in their dimension and became more complex. His successful midwifery of Eritrea's independence engendered another set of problems. Eritrea was born as an independent nation. But where is the economy that would set Meles Zenawi's cherished child on its feet? Before Eritrea's problems come to the fore and attract the attention of all, particularly of Ethiopians, Meles designed a set of strategies. Here it should be emphasized - despite the bluff of Eritreans who paint their province as a treasure trove to this day - that Eritrea had nothing to rely for its existence as a free country. Therefore, Meles' matter of urgency was not to defend the over 130,000 Ethiopians that were thrown out of Eritrea but how to give Eritrea an unbridled power to plunder Ethiopian resources.

1. Meles and Isayas during their frequent meetings at the Menelik Palace jointly crafted a policy that gives government support to Eritreans in Ethiopia to conduct businesses so that in turn they would become the solid ground for the economic growth of Eritrea. Such policy set Eritreans on a broad daylight looting spree that wrecked the businesses of Ethiopians as well as the livelihood of Ethiopian tax payers.

2. The above situation was later given a legal cover as Ethiopia and Eritrea entered into official agreements of co-operating each other politically, militarily and economically. Such agreements were signed in 1992/93. The "accords" were single-handedly offered to Eritrea by Meles Zenawi on behalf of the "Government and People of Ethiopia."

Subsequently, politburo members of TPLF forwarded their opinions stressing that since EPLF was an anti-democratic group, we are opposed to such "bilateral agreements." Their objections were presented:

a) In 1995 when Eritrea invaded the Yemeni Hanish islands on the Red Sea, Meles handed over MI helicopter gunships, MiG-21 fighter jets, tanks and radar to Eritrea in compliance with the military agreement Meles entered into with Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea.

b) Yemen has been one of the Arab financiers of EPLF during the pre-1991 Eritrean armed struggle. If Eritrea invaded Yemen, its long-time benefactor, argued the adversaries of Meles Zenawi, there is no reason why Eritrea would not invade Ethiopia and use the arms and ammunition it took from Ethiopia to invade Ethiopia. In this regard, the most notable speaker who vehemently opposed Meles Zenawi was the assassinated TPLF army general - Hayelom Araia. Siye, Gebru Asrat and Woizerit Aregash Adane were also in the forefront of opposing Meles Zenawi.

After this, things were being pushed secretly on the part of Meles as he continued to face rising opposition from the ranks of TPLF leadership. Therefore, relying on the continued information and intelligence services from Meles Zenawi, Sebhat Nega and Bereket Simon, Eritrea's Shaebia used the following tactics to launch an armed attack on Ethiopia:

1. To train a huge army of Eritrea under the pretext of mobilizing young Eritreans for "development" purposes.
2. On the part of Meles: to advance an idea that there is no threat of war from any side and the Ethiopian army should be greatly reduced and the rest weakened.
3. On the part of Eritrea: To deploy the "development" soldiers into war in Tigray and destroy whatever economic establishment existed in that region.
4. On the part of Ethiopia (Meles): To advance the idea among the TPLF/EPRDF leadership that Eritrea's aggression against Ethiopia should be resolved by peaceful means and there was no need to resort to a military solution.
5. By entering into negotiations with the U.N., Shaebia would then reclaim as Eritrean properties those establishments the invader had planned to take away from Tigray.
6. To destroy those TPLF officials who from time to time have stepped up their opposition to Shaebia. And to destroy them, deceptively legal covers were needed, and these covers that have been the mainstay of Meles Zenawi were to eliminate his critics by using "corruption" and "abuse of government power." Once the Ethiopian side of TPLF is surgically cut out by the political scissors of Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afwerki, what is left would be, to work together without showing peace signs either from Addis or Asmara.

(Note: Wogahta reporters, who themselves have been in and close to the TPLF leadership for several years, are now living hidden among the Ethiopian people. Their newspaper was banned by the Meles-Sebhat clique. EthioMedia is responsible for the Tigrinya-to-English translation, and inserting introductory notes, headlining, photo and photo-captioning during preparing the document for publication.)
June 5, 1998: The Ethiopian army was reduced to a level where it can no longer defend the country from foreign invasion. Despite facts, Eritrean war threats were dismissed as "baseless" allegations by Meles Zenawi. Eritrean army helicopters cluster-bombed Ayder school children in Mekelle, leaving over 50 children and parents dead. Photo shows sobbing mothers who lost their kids to the Eritrean bombing raid. Four years later today, after the tragic massacre, and a war that consumed tens of thousands of lives, Meles and Isayas are still in power - and trading "hostile" words at each other, while both working intimately in defense of their "power" and Eritrea in their own respective ways. To assume the two countries would be free from the threats of war and famine would be naive as these two groups thrive by creating environments of fear, war and destruction.

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