What Is Happening In Ethiopia Today – A year after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed now faces the prospect of civil war in his country. (Video: Siobhán O’Grady/The Washington Post)
Violence is on the rise in Ethiopia, where a leader once internationally lauded for his reform agenda and peacemaking with neighboring Eritrea faces the specter of civil war.
What Is Happening In Ethiopia Today
Long-running tensions between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in Addis Ababa and leaders of the Tigray region in the north of the country became public this month. Amnesty International documented evidence of alleged massacres of civilians as Tigray forces clashed with National Army forces. Hundreds of deaths were reported. Thousands of people have fled as refugees to neighboring Sudan.
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On Sunday, the Ethiopian government called on Tigray forces to “surrender peacefully within 72 hours, recognizing that you have no way back.”
The UN human rights office warned that “the situation risks getting completely out of control.” Civilians who fled the fighting and spoke to the Washington Post from Sudan described horrific scenes of mass violence. Some say government forces are “killing people like crazy”.
On Thursday, 17 U.S. senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking him to “engage directly” with Abiy and “continue to urge all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire, de-escalation and protection of civilians.” Humanitarian access, and respect for international humanitarian law. “
The Conflict In Ethiopia’s Tigray Region, Explained
In early November, Abiy said Tigray attacked a state military base. In response, he sent troops to the region, which is ruled by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a political party that has significant influence across the country. In a televised broadcast a few days later, Abiy announced that Ethiopian troops had bombed Tigray, destroying weapons near the regional capital, Mekele.
Days later, hundreds may have been killed in knife and machete attacks in the town of Mai-Kadra, according to Amnesty International. It is not clear who is responsible for this.
“We have confirmed the massacre of a large number of civilians who appear to be involved in any way in the ongoing military offensive,” East and Southern Africa chief Deprose Muchena said in a statement.
The group asked both sides to prioritize civil security and asked the government to restore communications with the region, which had been cut off in early November.
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Tigray region President Debretsion Gebremichael said Eritrea had sent troops and tanks to the Tigray border in support of the Ethiopian government, and told Reuters the missiles were in retaliation. Reuters said it provided no evidence to support its allegations.
Abiy wrote on social media on November 16 that the Ethiopian government was ready to “receive and reintegrate fellow Ethiopians who fled to neighboring countries”. The next day, he said Ethiopian forces were advancing what he called the “final and critical phase” of the military operation.
On November 19, Ethiopian military leaders accused World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former minister in the Ethiopian government and a member of the TPLF, of being a criminal who he said helped arm Tigray fighters. He provided no evidence to support his claim.
“I am on the side, and that is the side of peace,” Tedros said in a statement.
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On Monday, Ethiopian state media reported that Tigray forces had destroyed an airport in the ancient city of Axum in Tigray.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on November 17 that a three-day ultimatum to surrender by Tigrayya leaders had expired. (Video: Reuters)
Tensions have long simmered between Abiy and TPLF leaders, and the group’s state authority has weakened since Abiy took office in 2018.
As prime minister, Abiy dismantled the long-running coalition led by the TPLF for many years and created the new Prosperity Party.
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Jason Mosley, an associate research fellow at Oxford University’s Center for African Studies, said the move essentially “created a situation where [TPLF] either had to join the Prosperity Party and follow their program, or they didn’t, in which case They’re out”
Abiy won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize largely for his efforts to normalize relations with Eritrea, which shares a border with Tigray.
Eritrea is an extremely closed country that was once part of Ethiopia and gained independence in 1993 after a 30-year struggle. From 1998 to 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a war that killed tens of thousands of people. For the next 18 years, the two countries remained enemies.
When Abiy’s government delayed this year’s elections, citing coronavirus concerns, officials in Tigray state objected to the move, but the elections were held anyway. Abiy fueled the hostility by refusing to recognize the results of the September vote. The delay gave both sides a reason to discount the other. “They could each declare the other illegitimate,” said Peyton Knopf, a senior adviser at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
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Debretsion Gebremichael, head of Ethiopia’s rebel Tigray region, said his forces fired rockets into the Eritrean capital Asmara on November 14 (Video: Reuters)
Neighboring Sudan, from which more than 33,000 people have fled, is going through a fragile transition and economic crisis. In a worst-case scenario, Ethiopia could now experience “one of the largest refugee outflows we’ve ever seen,” Knopf said.
Mosley said he did not believe the Eritrean government would want to intervene directly in the conflict. “But if the Eritrean army is involved,” he said, “it would be really bad for Abiy because he seems to need the Eritreans to control his territory.”
This week, Babar Baloch, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the agency viewed the situation as a “massive humanitarian crisis”.
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In a statement this month, the State Department also urged a reduction in the crisis and called for communications in the region to be restored.
In a letter to Pompeo on Thursday, 17 U.S. senators urged the U.S. to become more directly involved in efforts to restore peace in the region. The letter cited major concerns about the humanitarian crisis and escalating violence, noting that in addition to the displacement of many Ethiopians in recent days, the conflict “posed an immediate threat to hundreds of American citizens, journalists and workers” who “helped” bring Gray area. surrounding area”.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who wrote the letter, said in a call with The Post that he was “concerned by the lack of commitment at the highest level, especially with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.”
“It’s not about finger pointing, it’s about stopping a growing humanitarian crisis,” he said. “The United States has strong interests in Ethiopia and the region, and it makes sense for the secretary of state to take a more leadership role.”
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Foreign countries are also pressing Abiy to seek peace talks, Reuters reported on Monday. Officials in neighboring countries such as Uganda and Kenya continue to call for dialogue to resolve the conflict. A weekly roundup of the breaking news and analysis from Africa, from Algeria to Zimbabwe and countries in between. Delivered Wednesday.
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People hold candles and the Ethiopian flag during a memorial service for victims of the Tigray conflict in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Nov. 3.
What To Know About Ethiopia’s Tigray Conflict
People hold candles and the Ethiopian flag during a memorial service for victims of the Tigray conflict in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Nov. 3. Eduardo Soteras/AFP via Getty Images
This week’s edition is the last for this year. Below, we take a look at the conflicts affecting Africa in the coming year and other things we’re keeping an eye on, from a governance crisis in Somalia to a troubled transition in Sudan. See you in 2022.
Ethiopia’s federal government said on Thursday that its troops would no longer advance in northern Tigray. The move comes days after Tigray rebels announced their retreat and federal forces recently recaptured a strategic town north of the capital Addis Ababa. Humanitarian groups hope this latest announcement will lead to a possible ceasefire, although formal peace talks have yet to begin.
No one could have predicted so many blows from Ethiopia’s year-long war. Since taking office in 2018, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, has gone from international hero to ending Ethiopia’s two-decade-long conflict with Eritrea to frontline troops fighting Tigray rebels .
The Conflict In Ethiopia’s Tigray Region
The conflict in the region began on November 4, 2020, when Abiy ordered a military response to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attack on the military base of the Federal Army’s Northern Command.
The war followed months of tension between the federal government and the TPLF, which previously dominated the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, leading to
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