Bringing down theDergueby any means was the TPLF’s unanimous objective, even though there was serious difference as to how to go about achieving this goal. So far, the military strategy of the TPLF had reflected the political objective highlighted in its programme, namely the self-determination of Tigrai, and thus the war against theDerguehad to be waged essentially by mobilizing the Tigraian population in Tigrai.
Based on this strategy, the war against the Ethiopian regime was confined to Tigrai, and the costwas too heavy for Tigraians. However, considering the overall engagement with the Ethiopian militaryforces, fighting and winning battles only in Tigrai could not bring the war to an end aslong as theDergueprevailed in the greater part of Ethiopia.
The Dergue had the advantage of massive human and material resources under its control and continued to draw on these vast resources of Ethiopia as a whole to feed and prolong the war.Consequentlythere was a real need for the TPLFto carry on the struggle throughout Ethiopiato stop the flow from the rearguard that was prolonging the war.
This strategy required not only military vision but also the political will to work with other Ethiopian organizations that could fight for collective interests, i.e. the removal of the Dergue and the establishment of a democratic state.
The TPLF was tied up in Tigrai with its own political strategy of liberating Tigrai.This became an obstacle to its military strategy of defeating the Dergue outright, which still had control of the greater part of Ethiopia. This was a long-term dilemma that confronted policy makers in the TPLF’s politburo. If its struggle was to achieve self-determination for Tigrai, then this could only happen by replacing the Dergue with a democratic system that respected such a right.
The TPLF’s politburo could not reach a consensus on this strategic matter that had such widespread ramifications.Those who leant towards the separation of Tigrai(Sibhat, Abbay, Seyoum and Meles) advocated an intensification of the struggle in Tigrai under the pretext of strengthening the rear. Others, like Aregawi, Giday, Teklu and Atsbaha, pushed for broadening the struggle with participation of other Ethiopian forces.
By Aregawi Berhe (2008), A Political History of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (1975-1991): Phd thesis, page 185 -187