The Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki constantly refers to "TPLF and their masters in Washington" nowadays.

Why Afwerki is upset with the US is pretty clear because the US demanded that Eritrean troops leave Tigray and Ethiopia more broadly. So that would be an incentive for Afwerki to trash-talk the US. (I think the US also imposed some kind of sanctions on Eritrea, in particular on the ruling party.)

Afwerki also claims the Tigrayans "attacked Eritrea with missiles, in accordance to the instigation of their accomplice, the Washington". But what incentive would the US have had to start a civil war in Ethiopia, or a cross-border war with Eritrea?

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    Sometimes people lie. Wouldn't it be the task of Afweri to motivate why something he says is true. This question sounds a bit like you asking us to do Afweris homework. If nobody said anything specific we likely chase ghosts here. Feb 13, 2023 at 18:36
  • @Trilarion No, this question is basically asking how much validity there is in the claims being made. These seem very similar to the Kremlin's "Ukraine is the lackey of the West" set of arguments. Except that we are not as familiar with the subject matter here. Seems like a rather good question. Feb 14, 2023 at 21:52
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica What do you think will come out of it? People make thousands of baseless claims all day. We wouldn't even have the time to debunk them all would we take this task seriously and ask this question for every single one of them. Is "no evidence is given" not enough of an answer? I'm not interested in discussing non-issues. It only becomes interesting once some kind of evidence emerges. Feb 14, 2023 at 22:49
  • @Trilarion Well, what if the US had been backing an insurgency? I agree that it would seem odd, these days, but that was par for the course in Central America in the 80s. And it is not like it a claim by some random person of no notoriety. And maybe the claim, of backing a civil war, could have been an exaggeration but still based on self-interested side-taking by the US? Granted, might be better housed on Skeptics, but... FWIW, I think ohwilleke's answer is spot on. Feb 14, 2023 at 23:09
  • "what if the US had been backing an insurgency" Without any kind of evidence I would have no reason to assume that. It would be purely hypothetical. Feb 15, 2023 at 6:26

1 Answer 1


One can speculate about reasons for the U.S. to incite civil war in Ethiopia or Eritrea until the cows come home(and even if there were reasons to do so that is very weak evidence that it actually did so), but the reality is that there is no credible evidence that the U.S. has done so.

The actual causes for the civil war in question are described here and don't involve the U.S.:

Following the end of the Ethiopian Civil War in 1991, Ethiopia became a dominant-party state under the rule of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of four ethnically based parties dominated by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). The founding and most influential member was the TPLF and the chairman was Meles Zenawi, who was the prime minister of Ethiopia until his death in 2012. He was succeeded by Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the chairman of the Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement (SEPDM), a coalition member. On 15 February 2018, Hailemariam announced his resignation as both prime minister and chairman of the EPRDF, owing to a growing discontent within the public, fueled by a reaction to 27 years of repression.

On 28 March 2018, in a closed-door election to chair the EPRDF, executive committee members elected the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organisation (OPDO) chairman Abiy Ahmed. On 2 April 2018, Ethiopian parliament elected Abiy as prime minister. One of Abiy's first actions after his election was to initiate a warming of relations with Eritrea, a long-time rival of the TPLF, to end a 20-year long border conflict. While this decision was considered a cause of celebration at the time, many within the Tigray Region were heavily critical of this, seeing it as a betrayal of those who died in the 1998–2000 war. The TPLF condemned the peace initiatives, saying they were hastily made, had "fundamental flaws," and also claimed it was decided on without consulting long-time TPLF members.

On 1 December 2019, Abiy merged the ethnic and region-based parties of the EPRDF (which had governed Ethiopia for 28 years) and several opposition parties into his new Prosperity Party. The TPLF, which had long dominated Ethiopian politics, refused to join this new party. After losing the election and being ousted from the federal government, TPLF officials relocated to the Tigray Region, continuing to administer control there while frequently clashing with the federal government. In one instance, the Tigray regional government was reported to have defied the federal government and refused to allow Ethiopian Federal Police to arrest Getachew Assefa, the former chief of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of Ethiopia and executive member of the TPLF.

The Ethiopian government and its supporters have accused the TPLF of trying to re-establish their rule over the country through violence and force. In turn, the TPLF has accused the federal government of accumulating too much power for itself, and that it was engaging in ethnic discrimination of Tigrayans.

Throughout 2020, tensions between the federal government and the TPLF escalated in the months leading up to November. In March, the National Election Board of Ethiopia delayed the general elections – originally scheduled for 29 August 2020 – to a then-undetermined date, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The terms of federal and regional lawmakers, as well as the executive branch, were then extended by federal parliament beyond the October 2020 constitutional mandates.

The TPLF, led by its chairman Debretsion Gebremichael, rejected these measures, arguing that they were unconstitutional, and held its own regional election on 9 September, in defiance of the federal government. Several journalists were barred by the Ethiopian government from travelling to cover Tigray's regional election. Ethiopia considered the Tigray election to be illegal, and responded by slashing federal funding to the region, a decision the TPLF described as "tantamount to declaration of war."

In late September 2020, the TPLF stated that the constitutional term limit of the House of Federation, the House of Peoples' Representatives, the prime minister, and the Council of Ministers was 5 October 2020 and that for this reason, it would consider "the incumbent" constitutionally illegitimate after 5 October; they proposed replacing the government with a technocratic caretaker government, as detailed in a plan posted on Facebook by the Coalition of Ethiopian Federalist Forces. Ethiopian elite units were transported to Gherghera base near Asmara, as part of an alleged pact between Prime Minister Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to "strike out of existence the TPLF," according to former Eritrean Minister of Defence Mesfin Hagos.

In late October 2020, the Ethiopian Reconciliation Commission stated that it was trying to mediate between the federal government and the TPLF, as well as the other regional governments, but that the pre-conditions set by all sides were blocking progress. As tension continued to grow, a brigadier general appointed by Abiy was prevented by the Tigray government from taking up his military post. The same day before the Tigray forces launched the Northern Command attacks, the federal parliament of Ethiopia had suggested designating the TPLF as a terrorist organization.

The 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia states in Article 39.1, "Every Nation, Nationality, and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession." Article 62.9 grants the House of Federation the right to "order Federal intervention if any State [government], in violation of [the] Constitution, endangers the constitutional order."

Certainly, no U.S. politician or senior civil servant has ever publicly called for the U.S. to incite civil war in Ethiopia or Eritrea in the time frame in which it occurred.

The U.S. does, in general, disfavor human rights violations everywhere in the world, and favors measures that are likely to end or reduce the intensity of wars with which it has only remote interests, and this can be one sided if only one side seems to be responsible for most violations of international norms.

In this case, Eritrean forces appear to have invaded sovereign Ethiopian territory without the permission of the Ethiopian government which is strongly against international norms. This seems to be what is going on in this case.

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    Also, Ethiopia was one of the key US partners in the war on Islamic extremism tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311886.2021.1893423 So, it made little sense for the US to destabilize Ethiopia. Feb 13, 2023 at 21:24
  • "Certainly, no U.S. politician or senior civil servant has ever publicly called for the U.S. to incite civil war in Ethiopia or Eritrea in the time frame in which it occurred." Something like this can only posibly be done by CIA and they never say it publicly.
    – convert
    Feb 13, 2023 at 21:45
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    @convert There have been multiple cases when a public official has said "X must go" (at least six since 2001) as another question at Politics.SE notes. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/72123/…
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 13, 2023 at 22:51

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