Ethiopia: 3 questions to understand the current escalation of the conflict

It does not seem that there is anything that can stop the progress of the Tigray rebels towards the capital, Addis Ababa, after the government forces had defeated them a year ago, so what is happening there today?

This is what Le Parisien editor Felix d’Orseau tries the answer From him, recalling at the outset Pope Francesco’s call, Sunday, to intensify diplomatic efforts to end the escalating conflict in Ethiopia between government forces under the command of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abi Ahmed and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, noting as well that the US government instructed its non-partisan diplomatic staff to principals to leave the country.

By answering 3 questions, Dorso wants to clarify what is going on.

The first question: What is the situation on the ground?

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front claimed responsibility for capturing the strategic towns of Disi and Komblucha, 400 km north of the capital, and also claimed to be advancing from the east towards Mile, a town on the road to Djibouti.

“With the capture of these two cities, the main logistical hubs that usually supply Addis Ababa have been severed,” Dorso quotes Patrick Ferras, Ethiopia specialist and author of “Learn and Understand Africa Today”, as saying.

Abi Ahmed’s government declared a state of emergency on November 2, and the Addis Ababa authorities called on the population to organize themselves to defend the city, and tens of thousands of civilians gathered in the capital on Sunday, in the famous “Meskel” Square, and swore to defeat the Tigray rebels.

Several countries also called on their nationals to leave Ethiopia, and the researcher said, “Diplomatic gestures are to some extent the standard when there is danger, and here we can say that Addis Ababa is today in the crossfire.”

The second question: What do the Tigray rebels want?

“We are not particularly interested in Addis Ababa, we just want to make sure that Abiy Ahmed is no longer a threat to our people,” says Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The capital, inhabited mainly by the ethnic Oromo, fell.

Patrick Ferras explains that the current conflict has political and not necessarily ethnic origins, as there is no strong hatred between ethnic groups in Ethiopia, as was the case in Rwanda and Burundi.

Dorso highlights that the Tigrayan Front has controlled the political and security structures in Ethiopia for nearly 30 years, while the Tigrayans themselves are a minority in the country, but Abi Ahmed, an Oromo, ousted them from power in 2018, and the Tigrayans were forced to retreat to Their stronghold is in their northern region.

The third question: Who poured oil on the fire?

In November 2020, Abiy Ahmed sent the army to Tigray, accusing the people of this region of wanting to secede. The fighting, which has left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands displaced, plunged the north of the country into a deep humanitarian crisis.

The Prime Minister declared victory on November 28, 2020, but by last June, fighters loyal to the Tigray Liberation Front regained control of most of the Tigray regions, and then advanced to the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara.

According to Dorso, Abi Ahmed’s victory last year was shallow, and the Tigrayans hid in the mountains and trained there before launching a counterattack in June, during the rainy season. They were enthusiastic, well trained and experienced in combat, so within 4 months they advanced 300 km.

The question now is, can there be talks despite the hatred between the two camps?

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