(By Temesgn Kebede, 03 march 2021) –
No one should be told the devastating consequences of war fought in one’s own turf. I will leave that to your imaginations.
That said all wars fought against foreign imperial powers wanting to colonized Ethiopia, with the exception of Metema and even Metema was fought under Tigrayan Emperor Yohannes IV, where he lost his life there, were fought in Tigray and Eritrea. But I am curious to know why the two wars fought against the Italians in 1896 under Menelik and 1935 under Haileselassie were fought in Tigray. They need not have had to be in Tigray had it not being for sinister motives.
From strategic and tactical military point of view, they were wrong moves. Had the Italians were allowed to move deep into the country before challenged, it would have avoided logistic expenses for both Menelik and Haileselassie three months of foot trips to meet the Italians at Adwa and Mychew respectively.
Battle of Adwa was partially successful but not complete. Yes, victory was achieved, and everyone ought to be grateful for the sacrifices paid. But tactically and strategically Engaging the Italians at Adwa was ill-thought through if there was no intension to drive the Italians out not only from Ethiopia but also from Eritrea. Then the three months trip from the capital with all logistics and expenses considered would have been eight taken otherwise, maugre the victory, it was a lose.
Some may say, it was not only Emperor Menelik and Haileselassie that marched from their seats to challenge foreign aggressors. Emperor Yohannes did also marched against the Mahidists to meet them at Metema. But Yohannes’ war against the Mahedists were offensive and not defensive. In an offensive war the force that makes the move chooses a strategic battle place. The force that plans an offensive attack could not wait for the defensive enemy force to dictate where battle could take place.
But how do we know that the Mahedists were in the defense? Well, after they killed Emperor Yohannes and his army was in disarray, the Mahdists rather than marching inwards to Ethiopia, they retreated to their homeland. It can therefore be argued that had Yohannes stayed put in Mekelle and waited for the Mahidists to come inland, it would have had not happened. If they could not advance inland once he was killed, one would not dream they would have done so while Yohannes was active and alive. Thus, dealing with the Mahdists at the place Yohannes did, Metema, was a foregone conclusion. It appears, the Mahidists were only interested to burn some church and kill few priests for whatever motive they had in mind. It was not acceptable, Yohannes being Yohannes, a pious religious leader he would not take it in. Had he done so he would have saved his life and many other who followed him. He ought not have had waited to the last minute to depart from life to prepare and name his successor. It looked as though he thought he had some more years to live to see his grandchild, Gugesa Areaya Selassie grow to adulthood to take over. But fate had it he got this calculation wrong. The decision to naming Mengesha Gugesa his successor was in a spur of a moment and desperation
Compare the Italians with the Mahidists, the Italians were set to move not only to the capital but all over Ethiopia and unlike what Yohannes did with the Mahidists, Menelik and Haileselassie ought to have allowed the enemy advanced far deep into the country and cut its link with its base.
Strategically, the Italians would have been far removed, and isolated from their bases at the Red Sea and/or Rome and would have been cut off and decisively dealt with.
But the reasons why Tigray was chosen as a battle ground is to weaken and decimate its frightening economy and it did not doubt.
When Ras Seyoum Mengesha informed Haileselassie that the Italians had made a move to Tigray to occupy Ethiopia, Haileselassie instruct Ras Seyoum to retreat but only as far as Mychew and block the Italian moment there and then. Why Mychew? Ras Seyoum could have moved with his army farther inland to Wello and the two Forces that of Ras Seyoum and Emperor Haileselassie could have met halfway. Surly, Seyoum could and should have moved his army for a good cause in and around the county as Did Ras Mekonnen Haile Micheal, father of Emperor Haileselassie moved his army as far as Adwa to fight the war without his movement restricted to Harar, where he was the governor.
Not only natural disaster, misrule, outright neglect and oppression were allowed to play their roles to destroy Tigray but war if it had to be fought out, it would have had to be in Tigray to make sure Tigray had no chance to revive.
No wonder, Tigray was left in a sorry state after all the battle fought it had to bear.
Yohannes IV was shot from behind by enemy from within fighting the Mahdists.
Aksum was ruined by Grahgn Mohamed, even though Aksum was not the seat of the then King just to destroy it. Grahgn had to detour from his mission just because it is Aksum so did Yodit! What more evidence these people could not have to sleep a night unless they put a leash on Tigayans to control!
And What now do you think they are trying to be doing?