In the inhumane civil war that began on November 3, which seesthe final political and military battle betwwem the federal government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and the regional government of Tigray under the control of the TPLF, more and more observers fear both the regionalization of the conflict and that it will turn into a terrible and planned ethnic cleansing. The Tigray government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front speak of an ongoing ethnic genocide. The same opinion is shared by many Ethiopians of Tigrigna origin on social media. At the moment there is evidence of indiscriminate bombings on the cities of the Tigray and massacres of civilians that suggest real ethnic cleansing committed by the federal army and by the allied paramilitary militias composed of Amara guerrillas. These war crimes, however, are not enough to accuse the Addis Ababa government of genocidal intent towards the Tigrigna ethnic minority. Or at least until yesterday …
Dejene Tsegaye, spokesman for the federal army in an official statement announced the conquest of the capital of Tigray as imminent, Mekelle, specifying that THERE WILL BE NO MERCY for the civilians who will remain loyal to the regional government and the TPLF.
«The next decisive battle will be Mekele. The citizens of the city are informed of the directive to dissociate themselves from the regional junta and flee, after which there will be no mercy», Tsegaye publicly stated. 747,116 people live in Mekelle, 531,570 in the urban area and 215,546 in the rural areas. The army spokesman’s shock statement was confirmed by propaganda leaflets and various appeals thrown to the population by federal troops and fascist Amara squads warning of the final attack on Mekelle, telling civilians to flee while they can.
The Abiy government has claimed responsibility for the capture of a number of cities in recent days, including the ancient city of Aksum and the city of Edega Hamus, 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Mekele. «The defense forces have controlled the city of Edaga Hamus, which is on the road from Adigrat to Mekele. The defense forces are currently marching towards the last target of the campaign, the city of Mekele», state of Emergency Fact Check, the government agency said on Sunday. TPLF leader DebretsionGebremichael promised ‘fierce fighting’ to block the advance of the Ethiopian Defense Forces (EDF). Debretsion warned that an assault on Mekele will not be the end of the conflict. «As long as the occupation forces are in Tigray, the fighting will not stop». The conflict has already spread beyond the borders of the Tigris with the launch of rockets by the TPLF on the Eritrean capital of Asmara after the Eritrean troops invaded the Tigray to fight alongside the federal army. The city of Bahir Dar in the Amhara region was also hit by rockets from the TPLF as a revenge for the participation of the Amara militias in the conflict, accused of ethnic cleansing against the Tigers.
It remains difficult to confirm the victorious war bulletins of the Addis Ababa government. Due to the information and communication blackout decreed on the Tigray, it is almost difficult to obtain precises and reliables informations that are not linked to the propaganda needs of both warring parties. African diplomatic sources report that a violent battle has been underway since Monday 23 November near the city of Korem, about 170 kilometers (106 miles) south of Mekelle. Prime Minister Abiy, now the Ethiopian Warlord, has vowed that the capital of the rebel region will fall this week.
Of the opposite opinion is Kjetil Tronvoll, an Ethiopian political scholar at Bjorknes University College in Norway. «Federal troops have taken control of the plains to the west, south and east of a highland escarpment in Tigray. To continue their advance towards Mekelle, they now literally have to fight an uphill battle against well-established defensive positions. Fighting in the high-altitude zone is much more difficult than in the lower southern territory, and there have been heavy casualties on both sides. It is not an easy and quick operation for the federal forces and there is a risk that the offensive will turn into a long-lasting war with a very high death toll from the government» Tronvoll told the economic news site. Bloomberg.
The federal army is allegedly suffering heavy losses, systematically denied by the Addis Ababa government which broadcasts military propaganda on TV and Radio to exalt the population. According to the International Committee for the Red Cross, the Ethiopian Red Cross Society carried hundreds of federal soldiers who were injured in the fights and transported to hospitals in the Amhara region that are ill-equipped to deal with the influx.
Heavy fighting took place last Thursday at the Hitsats refugee camp near Tigray’s border with Eritrea, according to four people familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect the safety of aid workers in the area. A tank near the camp was destroyed during the fighting, leaving its more than 25,000 residents without access to running water. Tigray officials report that fighting continues on four separate fronts. Leake Zegeye, an associate professor at Mekelle University, reports that two students were killed by a bomb that exploded near the university’s stadium on November 16, while a number of others were injured.
Growing concerns are evident in the financial markets that the crisis may drag on and spread to other parts of Ethiopia or beyond its borders. Yields on Ethiopian $ 1 billion Eurobonds maturing in 2024 have risen 202 basis points since the outbreak of the conflict and were trading 8.42% in London on Friday. The nervousness of the international markets puts heavy pressure on Prime Minister Abiy in order to secure a quick victory.
Unfortunately, we are witnessing the birth of all the conditions for a long-lasting conflict similar to what appeared to be Yugoslavia or Somalia. As in these two conflicts, the one in Tigray is also creating continental and international alignments. The support of the TPLF by Egypt and Sudan is risked shortly due to the dispute over the waters of the Nile. Some regional observers say that this support already exists in fact. Eritrean troops are fighting alongside federal forces while the UAE has made dozens of combat drones available to use against Tigrinya forces.
While the European Union is still incredulous about the outbreak of this devastating civil war, Italy, thanks to its Premier Giuseppe Conte, is working to persuade the warring parties to a ceasefire and to sit down at the negotiating table. Unfortunately, Italy’s delicate diplomatic work is being opposed by United States, which shamelessly took the defence of Prime Minister Abiy despite war crimes and ethnic cleansing.
The American Ambassador to Ethiopia, Michael Raynor, allegedly gave the support of his country to Prime Minister Abiy during a meeting last week. US Deputy Secretary for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, blamed the Tigray authorities for trying to overthrow Abiyand reclaim the national political power they had lost since taking office in 2018. «This is a faction of the government that manages a region in Ethiopia that has decided to re-engage in hostilities against the central government. Right now I think their tactic had the opposite effect to what they were planning» told the Ethiopian media.
On the fringes of the federal government’s full of images of invincible soldiers (all archive images) intent on freeing the Tigrinya people from the oppressive TPFL, a bitter reality lurks. The federal soldiers are unable to find the support of the tigrigna population, as hoped. They are considered enemies and occupation troops. Even the vaunted conquests of strategic cities are not accompanied by images of prisoners of war, military equipment recovered from the TPLF or newly captured cities with the local population welcoming the liberators sent from Addis Ababa. Yet these images would serve the Prime Minister’s propaganda machine to create popular consensus and a general sense of victory.
Despite the fact that various Western media are downplaying the war crimes committed on civilians (some even go so far as to conceal them), the Prime Minister is risking the collapse of the Ethiopian Federation. The federal constitution is the result of a delicate compromise between the various ethnic groups drawn up in the 1990s with the aim of bringing the fixed armed movements to an agreement to keep Ethiopia united. The TPLF was then the main member of the ruling coalition, but much of the inspiration came from the Oromo leaders. The constitution guarantees self-government to ethnolinguistic groups and, controversially, the right to self-determination. Certainly in 30 years of power the TPLF has exploited the federal administrative system to its advantage but now Prime Minister Abiy is destroying it, perhaps in an attempt to establish yet another dictatorship in the history of the country.
«This civil war is characterized by unprecedented war crimes and waves of ethnic cleansing. With each passing day the killings, the destruction, the refugees multiply, making the rhetoric of the federal media less and less credible and more and more difficult for Ethiopia to get out of the abyss into which the Nobel Peace Prize is falling. It is a devastating war that must be stopped at all costs. Any international instrument of condemnation and pressure is now needed. Whatever the initial justification that sparked the conflict, Abiy will be judged under the international legal code. If his forces continue to commit war crimes, any initial justification will not be taken into consideration in court ». These are the harsh words of Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation and research professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
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