Facts in the Face of Fiction: No. 4
On Historical Account of the Armed Struggle against the Derg
FICTION:"President Isaias also perpetuated the myth that the EPLF was responsible for winning the war in 1991 - that the EPLF beat 'Ethiopia' single handed. Eritrea did not defeat Ethiopia but the Mengistu regime, and it could never have done so without the support of Ethiopian opponents of Mengistu who fought and died alongside the EPLF. Ethiopia is saddened that, in his rhetorical statements, President Isaias is still trying to foster the myth that the EPLF alone were responsible for ridding Ethiopia of the Derg regime. More sad is his deliberate dismissal of the sacrifice of the tens of thousands of Ethiopians who died fighting against the Derg." Ethiopia Saddened by Inflammatory Speech, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, 9th July 1998.
FACT:"We should not consider Sha'bia as a group of bandits that is confined to the mountains of Sahil. It is one and many at the same time. It is the group which has and is creating, training, arming and leading other groups of bandits inside Ethiopia. When this group is annihilated the head of the other movements will be cut, and there will be no force that can pose a threat to Ethiopia." Menghistu Hailemariam, on the eve of the launch of the Red Star Campaign (6th offensive), 1982.
FACT:"There was nothing surprising if the TPLF allied itself with the EPLF and cooperated with it with a view to deterring the common enemy. That was what the TPLF did. In this regard the TPLF had, of course, done its level best, and the EPLF respects this gesture. The EPLF doesn't deny others the credit they deserve for such is not its culture.
"[U]nlike the TPLF leaders, we don't claim that we crushed the army in Shire alone. Even though we had been cooperating with each other, we believe that the struggle of the people of Tigrai triumphed because of the struggle they waged by themselves.
"Following the joint attack launched by the two forces, Debretabor was recaptured, the 3rd division was completely crushed and its commander was held prisoner. Even though the role the EPLF forces played in this battle was clear, we never said that TPLF controlled Debretabor through our help.
"Even though the work the mobile garages and maintenance units of the EPLF performed in preparing the necessary tanks and heavy artilleries for the operation was by any measure incomparable, we didn't say the EPRDF could not have done it without our expertise.
"The 4th mechanized Division of the Derg, which was the strongest divisions among the army that were stationed in central Ethiopia, was attacked mainly by the EPLF army in the plains of Hamusit. The plains of Hamusit had been guarded by 40 tanks and it was difficult to cross it with infantry units. However, we never said that the EPRDF could have not been able to cross the trenches in Hamusit without the help of EPLF tanks. We only regarded this contribution as one factor for the achievement of the victory.
"On our part, under any circumstances, we don't want to minimize contributions of the TPLF fighters in deterring the Derg forces during the sixth offensive. We always give it the honour it deserves. " Eritrea Profile July 11, 1998.