• Friday, Dec 02, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Where is Ethiopia going after four weeks of fighting in Tigray

  • Published at 02:59 pm December 2nd, 2020
Ethiopia says its troops marching on Tigrayan capital
Members of Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) prepare to head to mission, in Sanja, Amhara region near a border with Tigray, Ethiopia, on November 9, 2020 Reuters

So far an estimated 45,500 have crossed Ethiopia's western border into Sudan

On November 4, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced a military offensive against the leaders of the dissident northern region of Tigray.

On Saturday, Abiy claimed the conflict was over after capturing the regional capital Mekele, although Tigrayan leader Debretsion Gebremichael insists his forces continue to fight.

Here's a snapshot of the crisis:

Who is fighting?

The conflict pits the Ethiopian federal army against forces loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the northern region's ruling party.

Despite representing less than 6% of Ethiopia's 110 million people, the TPLF wielded outsized power in the country for decades after the overthrow of Mengistu Hailemariam, leader of the brutal Derg regime, in 1991.

But its influence over security and politics began to wane after Abiy -- the first prime minister from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia's largest -- came to power in 2018, gradually wresting control from the TPLF.

In 2019, Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his overtures towards longtime foe Eritrea, which neighbours Ethiopia and remains a sworn enemy of the TPLF.

Abiy's decision to send troops into Tigray -- following an alleged TPLF assault on federal army bases in Mekele and Dansha -- was the culmination of mounting tensions between his government and the TPLF.

Where are they fighting?

Troops, tanks and airstrikes prosecuted the Ethiopian military assault on Tigray from the south and west. In just over three weeks, Abiy declared victory, saying his forces had seized control of Mekele, the seat of the TPLF.

Ethiopia has denied TPLF claims Eritrean troops joined the fight on the government side.

Abiy on Monday warned Tigrayan leaders that he would continue to hunt them down, claiming they had fled to the west of Mekele.

However TPLF leader Debretsion this week told AFP "the fighting has continued,” insisting his forces would not stop "as long as these invaders are on our land."

A security briefing note seen by AFP said Mekele was calm from Monday but that looting had been reported.

What is the impact?

Thousands have been killed so far, and the UN has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe as civilians flee the fighting in Tigray.

So far an estimated 45,500 have crossed Ethiopia's western border into Sudan, according to the UN refugee agency.

Some refugees say Ethiopian soldiers stationed along border roads are discouraging people from leaving the country.

Around 600,000 people living in Tigray depended on food handouts for survival even before the fighting began -- among them 96,000 Eritrean refugees -- and the UN has warned that restrictions on humanitarian access to the region and the ability to deliver aid is putting them at dire risk.

Food, fuel and cash are in short supply, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), while the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says basic medical equipment is lacking.

The government has indicated its intention to "respond quickly to the needs of the population of Tigray" but has not granted full UN access.

Meanwhile, a communications blackout has kept Tigray cut-off since the start of the conflict, hampering the work of humanitarians.

But some Tigray residents reported Tuesday that communications had been partially restored.

What happens next?

While Abiy's words imply the conflict is over, the TPLF is promising resistance to what it regards as an occupying force.

It remains unclear what losses the TPLF forces have suffered in the weeks of battles, nor is it known how willingly the Tigrayan population will accept the overthrow of their leaders.

As a result, analysts fear a drawn-out asymmetric war in the north as the remaining TPLF forces -- potentially still well-equipped, trained, determined and supported by the population -- take to the mountains.

"It is probable that some form of conflict will continue," said William Davison of the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank. "We just don't know how strong or sustainable that would be."

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail