Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed that the military operation launched by the army in the northern Tigray region has “clear, limited and easily achievable” goals.
The regional commander, Debrechan Gebirmichael, accused the government of Abi Ahmed weeks ago of trying to invade the region, which led many to fear that the military moves would spark a civil war.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, called for an immediate halt to the escalation in Ethiopia, expressing his “deep concern” about what is happening.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also called for an urgent de-escalation in order to “protect civilians.”
What are the latest developments?
The Federal Army has mobilized more soldiers and equipment in the northern regions surrounding the province.
General Berhanu Gula, deputy chief of staff, said that the soldiers were being mobilized from the rest of the country to support the northern region forces in their operations in the Tigray region.
The Ethiopian army’s Northern Command headquarters is located in the Tigray region, and was controlled by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
Abi Ahmed confirmed in two tweets on his Twitter account that the operation was “limited” and was necessary as a last resort after attempts to peacefully resolve the dispute with great patience that lasted for several months.
This comes after Gebermichael announced that the Tigrayans had taken control of all weapons and equipment that were in the headquarters of the northern region of the army.
Is it dangerous?
It is difficult to know the extent of the seriousness of the clashes between the two sides, nor the number of victims due to the interruption of the Internet and telephone lines in the region, despite the partial return of electricity.
Also, during all the conversations he gave, Abi Ahmed refused to give information on this aspect, stressing that all information will be provided once the process ends.
Gebermichael emphasized that the regional forces are ready to fight in defense of the region and its lands, and that it will be a “cemetery for reactionaries.”
The Prime Minister accused the “Tigray People’s Liberation Movement” of continuous provocation and incitement to violence, stressing that “the last red line has been violated.”
General Berhanu accused the movement of “treason”.
These statements prompted observers to express their fears that this process may be the beginning of a civil war, but the Prime Minister reduces these possibilities in his speeches.
Relations between the front and the government in Addis Ababa have been strained for a long time, especially after the movement used to control power in the country through political alliances, but all of that faded after Abiy Ahmed won the premiership two years ago.
And Abiy Ahmed dissolved the ruling political alliance consisting of several ethnicities and based on many local political parties and reconstituted it into one party called the Prosperity Party, but the Tigray People’s Liberation Front refused to join the party.
Addis Ababa accused some leaders of the Front of evading the judiciary and opposing the political reform attempts launched by Abi Ahmed.
Relations completely collapsed after the front held local elections last September, despite the objection of the federal government.
The federal government in Ethiopia decided to postpone elections throughout the country due to the outbreak of the Corona epidemic, but the Tigrayan government held the elections on schedule.
Addis Ababa considered the elections illegal.
Despite the Front’s pledges to preserve the region’s presence in the country within the control of the federal government in the past, it currently supports the defense of the region’s autonomy and opposes what Abiy Ahmed calls an attempt to build a strong federal system in the country.
Addis Ababa also declared a state of emergency in the region for a period of six months, including a ban on flying and a comprehensive closure of the region’s borders.
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