Agazi Commandos dealt with border security and even conducted counterterrorist operations inside Somalia. There is a visible police presence in Addis Ababa and in larger urban areas throughout Ethiopia. Federal, regional and local police forces still lack modern training and equipment, such as radios and vehicles. Since November 2005 when Addis Ababa and several other urban areas experienced social unrest, police presence in urban centers has been augmented by red berets from the Agazi anti-insurgency military brigade. Members of the regular law enforcement (comprised of mixed ethnicity) cannot be loyal and trusted by the top people in the Tigrain People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has been ruling Ethiopia for the last 25 years.
Agazi is a shadowy semi- autonomous paramilitary group accountable only to a select few senior echelon members of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The group is named after one of the founding members of TPLF called Zeru Gessesse nicknamed Agazi. The group in real conventional military standard could be categorized as a private army resembling a mercenary group that is hired by war lords to protect their interest. It’s operational command and control is outside of even the Tigray ethnic group dominated national defence structure. It’s main purpose of existence is to ensure the regimes hold on power remains unchallenged.
Wherever there is popular discontent or revolt against the regime in any part of the country, Agazi appear to crush it. People in Ethiopia talk about Agazi with an understanding of some kind of foreign occupying army. The actions of the group according to those who encountered or witnessed say Agazi’s “are a killing machine. Indiscriminate killers who do not distinguish between children and adults, the elderly and the youth, men and women, armed and unarmed. They just kill, and it is fair to say that they appear to be enjoying killing.”
In December 2006, the Ethiopian military launched an intervening attack into Somalia after the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) overtook the fledgling Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Perhaps unknown to the ICU, DoD has been on a quiet campaign to capture or kill al-Qaeda leaders in the Horn of Africa since the 1998 embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. For several years, DoD has been training Ethiopian troops for counterterrorism operations in camps near the Somalia border, including Ethiopian Special Forces known as Agazi Commandos. According to US officials, the U.S. military also used “an airstrip in eastern Ethiopia to mount airstrikes against Islamic militants in neighboring Somalia,” launching two AC-130 gunship strikes on January 6 and 23, 2007.
Among investigative reporters Jeremy Scahill, the National Security correspondent for The Nation magazine, is the most prominent and inquisitive. On December, 9, 2010 he testified before Congress and outlined his findings. According to Mr. Scahill “US forces ... struck multiple times in Somalia and have used the Ethiopian Army as a proxy force to cover the role of US Special Operations troops in a shadow war against al Shabaab and other militant groups. In the years leading up to the December 2006 Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, the Pentagon trained Ethiopian forces—including the notorious Agazi special forces unit. The US role continued well into the Ethiopian offensive.”
On December 21, 2015 high level members of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), who held an extraordinary meeting to discuss on the ongoing protest in Oromia, condemned the massacre of Oromo students who protested the Integrated Master Plan by the Agazi Special Forces and the Ethiopian Army. The members also demanded that the Agazi and Ethiopian Army to immediately leave the Oromia Region.
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