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Nitpicking a la BBC

A la BBC

Nitpicking a la BBC 

The BBC – and no doubt others will follow suite without verifying the facts – has just published a piece on its website grandiosely claiming that the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, has admitted to the presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray region of Ethiopia – “Ethiopia PM Ahmed Abiy admits Eritrea forces in Tigray” as they put it. Their in-house “analyst” wrote the following: 

 

He [PM Abiy] chose his words carefully – never mentioning their presence in the towns of Tigray. Instead he referred to the border area – the extent of which is open to interpretation. He also quoted Eritrean officials as saying the soldiers would leave as soon as Ethiopia’s army could control the trenches along the frontier.

While the analyst glosses over a few important facts because they would diminish the sensationalism of the news and also detract from the BBC’s unrelenting struggle to implicate Eritrean troops in unfounded accusations, it is worthwhile to look closely at this points. 

Fact 1: The Prime Minister started his discourse on the presence of Eritrean troops by publicly and officially thanking Eritrea for the invaluable assistance it rendered to the Ethiopian troops that had been attacked by the TPLF forces and the Tigrayan soldiers amongst their midst. He also mentioned that those parties that are trying to put a wedge between Ethiopia and Eritrea by claiming all sorts of fabrications will not be allowed to do so. He then explained that he had raised the issue of Eritrean troops on Ethiopian soil with his Eritrean counterparts and he was given the explanation that when Ethiopian troops left their trenches and command posts along the Eritrean border, this created a vacuum that could have been exploited by the TPLF to attack Eritrea. As such, fearing for its own security, Eritrea ordered its troops to occupy these vacated trenches and posts along its border. Furthermore, at such time as when the Ethiopian troops are ready to come back and take control of their border posts, Eritrean troops will immediately withdraw. 

This being the fact, the BBC’s analyst tries to put a spin on this by claiming that the “border area – the extent of which is open to interpretation” could mean any part of Tigray. The closest major towns to the Eritrean border are Zalambassa and Humera. Surprisingly, no atrocities are reported from these two towns but deep inside Tigrayan territory, in Aksum no less, Eritrean troops are alleged to have committed atrocities. Isn’t it clear that Aksum was deliberately selected for this propaganda because of its religious significance? If Eritrean troops were to commit atrocities, wouldn’t it be easier to do so in these two major towns which are only a stone’s throw away from their border? 

The Prime Minister also stated that he raised the question of atrocities by the Eritrean troops with Eritrean officials and he was given the strongest assurance that those reports were fabricated. This is conveniently not quoted by the BBC nor the analyst. Why? Because the BBC doesn’t give us the whole picture of what the PM said. Instead it chooses to dwell in innuendos and assumptions in order to paint the false picture that they have always been trying to portray at the behest of its TPLF-affiliated reporters and analysts. 

Fact 2: If the Eritrean troops were fighting alongside their Ethiopian counterparts, why would the PM of Ethiopia even have to ask the Eritrean government to clarify the situation of its troops in Ethiopian territory? Surely he would know they were already in the heartland of Tigray had they been there fighting alongside his troops, or as some are even claiming, fighting on behalf of his troops! This further 

proves that the Eritrean troops did not move into the interior of Tigray even after the provocation by the TPLF when it fired rockets into civilian areas of Asmara – something the BBC never condemns, mentions or dwells upon – but instead moved its troops to safeguard its own security to the border region. No doubt, this must have irked the TPLF because it could not move into Eritrean territory and pull Eritrea into the conflict and give the conflict an international/regional character and hence play the victim yet again, but it also meant they could not flee through Eritrean territory into Sudan. 

The bottom line is that Eritrean troops did NOT participate in the fighting alongside their Ethiopian counterparts but simply kept guard over the Eritrean-Ethiopian border. 

Fact 3: The BBC’s analyst further writes the following: 

There was another admission as a result of the growing weight of evidence. Mr. Abiy also – on behalf of both countries – condemned any atrocities that had taken place. Slowly but surely the gruesome truth is coming out.” 

Having listened to the original Amharic version of the PM’s speech, I could not find anywhere where there was any “admission” by the PM. Admission implies that someone is owning up to what they did or did not do when they should have. The PM in his speech clearly states that there have been reports of atrocities being committed and that his government would investigate these reports and bring to justice any perpetrators be they his own soldiers or others. To, therefore, publish something that implies admission of guilt when there was none is BBC deviousness at its best. 

The truth is that even more than four months down the line, nobody has been able to furnish a single genuine photograph of Eritrean troops fighting – let alone committing atrocities – in Tigray region. Everything to date is based on “eyewitnesses” who seem to be changing their stories every other day. Fabricated numbers and descriptions also change. Whenever someone calls out a mistake in a previous so-called eye-witness report, the next report makes sure that that particular mistake is “corrected”. If high-resolution photos can show where a piece of ground in a church cemetery was recently dug up, surely we would have no issues with furnishing high-resolution satellite imagery of Eritrean army trucks laden with looted material heading back to their country. To-date there aren’t any. Because the atrocities were not committed by Eritrean Defence Force troops but in high probability TPLF troops clad in Eritrean army fatigues. That’s what the facts point towards but the BBC and the other media outlets refuse to even consider that as a possibility. The well-oiled TPLF lobbyist campaign is no doubt working overdrive. 

As always, it might take time, but the truth will indeed prevail and it will be no thanks to the likes of the BBC! 

Sara Isaias

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