I am grateful for the historian, Rene Lefort, putting me right on an important question.
In my recent post: “Dilemmas for Eritreans and Tigrayans” I said this:
“The question of whether to cross the Mereb and attack Eritrean forces lined along the border is clearly an option.
Men like General Tsadkan Gebretensae advocated the capture of Asmara during the border war on 1998 – 2000.
As the BBC noted:
Gen Tsadkan was intent on advancing towards the Eritrean capital Asmara, but Prime Minister Meles called a halt, saying that Ethiopia’s war aims had been achieved and Eritrea was now humbled.
After the war, the TPLF split rancorously over both the war aims and the party’s political direction. Mr Meles fired Gen Tsadkan as chief of staff.
Now Gen Tsadkan is back with the TDF as part of its central military command. The view that Tigray will never have peace as long as President Isaias Afwerki rules Eritrea must – surely – have been given added momentum by the invasion of Tigray by the Eritrean military in November last year.”
This is what Rene Lefort informs me:
“I think you were wrong when you wrote: Gen Tsadkan was intent on advancing towards the Eritrean capital Asmara, but Prime Minister Meles called a halt, saying that Ethiopia’s war aims had been achieved and Eritrea was now humbled.” I discussed this issue with Tsadkan. He told me that his aim wasn’t to capture Asmara, but to completely destroy the Eritrean army. This could entail going as far as Asmara if necessary, but didn’t aim for a regime change.”
Prime Minister Meles apparently fired Tsadkan because he refused to take part in the conflict inside the TPLF. He considered that as national army chief of staff he could not intervene in political affairs.
I am grateful for this correction, since it is important to put this right – particularly as the whole question of relations between Eritrea and Tigray are once more on the table.