Summary of the Secret Memo from Yemane Gebreab to Eritrean Military Commanders in Tigray.
At a time when Eritrean troops are expected to leave Tigray, a secret 27-page memo from the Eritrean President’s office reveals a much more sinister and brutal campaign to destroy the region’s remaining human capital and resources. This partly reproachful document addressed to senior commanders of the Eritrean army now in Tigray strongly calls for a continued, non-stop work to realize the campaign that aims at the survival of Eritrea and ward off a possible existential threat from a war inside Tigray which, it notes, this far has failed to achieve significant victories.
The memo underlines there are three factors that are critical for TPLF’s survival.
1. Masses of youth or human resources/human capabilities they have.
The document notes that the way the war was handled didn’t result in destroying those capabilities mentioned above and hence they find themselves entangled in grave danger and about to pay dearly/heavy price. “And now,” the memo (in its introduction) says “we have no choice other than to be successful with the time we are left with.”
Based on that premise, the memo outlines the following actions.
1. The action/measures taken on the masses of youth were so light that we only helped generate an angry youth that flocked to the TPLF (for training). What we rather should have done was take mercilessly punitive measures that would have emasculated and put them in fear and terror and ultimately drove them to camps and trenches inside Eritrea. Our failure to do just that is making us pay a heavy price. A leadership that harbors sympathies for Tigray and Tigrayans while our own existence/survival is in danger is merely naïve & foolhardy.
2. Again, to be saved from this this threat/danger, we have no choice other than working around the clock and with high degree of flexibility. Time is not on our side. We must understand that we are under pressure from the (rest of) world.
3. Any Eritrean commander who thinks that the war that we are waging in Tigray is meant to support Dr. Abiy Ahmed is only gullible and foolish. This is because Abiy- at the very least- could only lose Tigray. But for Eritrea, it is a matter of survival. That is something every Eritrean soldier needs to understand.
4. Again, the measures to be taken on the prime human resource capabilities in Tigray should compensate for the time lost in between. For instance, in the battles of November, we could recall that joint Ethiopian and Eritrean command with superior artillery fire capabilities effectively and in a very short period of time destroyed 150 thousand militias from the TPLF side and in the territories we controlled too. We were in good shape then.
5. With regard to the economy, proper action was not taken on the service giving institutions. For example, health facilities, schools and buildings were reported to be destroyed simply because the Eritrean troops took mattresses and bags from these institutions. But for that to be realized, the structures should have been demolished totally.
6. The war we undertook was not deadly. What is regretful is none of the 50 to 70 generals and seasoned colonels has been killed or taken prisoner. It is now confirmed that seven or so generals that have been reported killed are still alive.
7. Sadly and shamefully, we have witnessed forces led by Eritrean and Ethiopian generals with the backing of modern weaponry, mechanized units, helicopters and air power being sent in disarray by guerilla fighters led by generals who travel on foot. It is not just that the TPLF generals were travelling on foot; it was not even possible to kill or capture those really old ones who suffer from various ailment such as blood pressure, diabetes and walk using canes. At least, you need to lead and fight for your honor! That is extremely humiliating.
In sum, the memo underlines the war unleashed by Eritrea has gone terribly wrong. It also directs the Eritrean commanders to act with so much ferocity unlike they have done this far. That, the memo instructs, should cover total annihilation of Tigray’s young and their will to survive, its human resources and livelihoods, as well as its institutions. It underscores that this indeed is a race against time; as the world sits watching.