The EPLF had continued its political, military and moral support to the TPLF simply because it firmly believed that the question of the Tigrayan people was just and legitimate, even if they had such reckless and narrow-minded leaders. As a matter of fact, the relations were not always smooth. Indeed, the TPLF leadership was making senseless moves that emanated from lack of experience and naïve features. During the October 1981 leadership meeting of both the TPLF and EPLF held in Khartoum, the TPLF leaders had presented incomprehensible points saying, “We have a lot of differences with the EPLF in our points of view”. However, the EPLF leadership was keen and sensible that it responded to the TPLF, “We have viable revolutionary grounds to go along with our struggle, besides our mutual benefits are far stronger than our difference”.
This endorsed the mutual military cooperation and provided added impetus to the struggle of both peoples. As a result, Eritrean freedom fighters fought by the side of the TPLF in Tigrayan soil in 1982, and so did the TPLF fighters by standing on the side of the EPLF force in some military operations in the Sahel trenches. Hence, like all the martyrs, glory and respect goes to the TPLF martyred fighters in Eritrea and also to the fallen Eritrean heroes and heroines who laid down their lives in the Tigray battlefields!
Such cooperation and joint operations had indeed not only created favorable grounds for both Eritrean and Tigrayan fighters but also induced great hope to both peoples. Leaders of the Weyane were, however restless by the bond created among fighters of both the EPLF and that of Tigray. Accordingly, the Weyane leaders wedged continued watch through its cadres upon its fighters to make sure they don’t establish close ties with the Eritrean revolutionary fighters.
Dismayed by the strengthened ties between fighters of both sides, the Weyane leaders, following their second party congress in 1983, gathered their forces under the pretext of “Army reinforcement” and had stopped its forces from fighting any military operation against the Derg regime inside Eritrea. Indeed, it is plain and clear that the Weyane came up with that diabolic hope that the EPLF would be weakened in fighting the Derg regime all on its own. Hence, considering the fact that the EPLF foiling and deteriorating continuous enemy operations with the TPLF leadership refraining from any military move would jeopardize the then growing revolutionary ties of both peoples, another round of meeting between leaders of both the EPLF and the TPLF was arranged in June and July of 1983 in Khartoum.
Yet again, the TPLF leaders raised a copy of excuses that include, “We have a lot of misunderstanding and differences with the EPLF”. Some of the then presented complaints alleged, “The EPLF does not have a clear policy as regards the right to self-determination of suppressed peoples, the EPLF not supporting independence of Tigray from Ethiopia would not let us work in harmony, military strategy of the EPLF is wrong, the EPLF does not have a clear stand concerning international and regional issues, they didn’t even condemn the Communist Soviet Union…” and more other issues.
The point raised as regards the right to self-determination of peoples was indeed a very critical juncture that highlighted the double-crossing point of view of the Weyane. The EPLF leadership has to this end underlined that the question of the people of Tigray was just and legitimate and that it should be solved within the realm of the unity and integrity of Ethiopia. As for the rest of the drawn out arguments, the EPLF leadership performed the best of its acumen to proudly end the hours of argument by announcing that such reckless issues would not subdue the mutual mission of both peoples against a common enemy, and gave the TPLF leaders an insight to keep up their fight against the tyrant and thus herald the just struggle of the Tigrayan people. Ironically, the Weyane leaders were not yet satisfied because the EPLF leadership would not change its stand regarding the
question of the Tigrayan people and the issue of Ethiopia’s unity.
Even after the Khartoum meetings, the Weyane launched a large-scale blackmail offensive against the EPLF among the Tigrayan masses and fighters as a reflection of their dissatisfaction. Claiming to “cleanse them from the socio-imperialist culture and mind set they were influenced with by the EPLF”, the TPLF began a campaign of brainwashing the military units that were deployed in Eritrea. Some of the unusual stories that the then Weyane fighters can still remember is the decision taken to severely punish and put into rehabilitation a battalion claimed to “have become extremely contaminated with EPLF politics”.
TPLF leaders at that point in time released the manifesto that was originally issued in 1976 and quickly pulled it away from circulation, and began openly campaigning with it involving fighters and the population. Also claiming that “our land on the south starts from the Alowha valley, comprising of Tselemti and Welkait on the west and the districts of Badme and Tsorona, which are in Eritrea, belong to us. And we also have a sea gate through Bada”.
The TPLF hopped to start a practical offensive against the EPLF on the ground by launching alluring campaigns among the Tigrayan masses. Nonetheless, the EPLF overlooked those plots by underlining the fact that colonial boundaries are plain and clear so as not to comply with the unremitting campaigns the TPLF leadership was engaged on.
On top of their engagement in such diabolic efforts to get the EPLF into undesired arguments and conflicts, the Weyane also abused the genuine permission of using Dimtsi Hafash airwaves to enlighten and upraise their people, and geared their propaganda against the EPLF. Indeed, the peoples and revolutionary fighters of Eritrea and Tigray found it ironic to see the shameless TPLF leaders propagating reckless defamatory statements targeted against the EPLF through the airwave granted to them out of the goodwill of the EPLF. Yet, because the people and fighters of Tigray were well aware of the situation on the ground, the EPLF leadership did not bother to respond to these baseless and insane propaganda attempts. Disappointed of its own self, the TPLF leaders were eventually compelled to pull out from the Dimtsi Hafash out of their own accord and cut off their connections with the EPLF.