Almost a year since the war in Ethiopia’s northern state of Tigray broke out, the igniting factor begun with a pre emptive strike on the North Command of the federal army by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front on the 4 November 2020.
The central government responded with what it described as a brief surgical operation to bring to justice the Front’s leadership. Since then, the war has expanded outside Tigray to Afar and Amhara regional states.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is safe to conclude that this war was riddled with miscalculations and strategic blunders. It was a blunder for the TPLF to think it would gain the military upper hand by decapitating the Northern Command the most equipped branch of the national army. Its act of provocation, however, generated national condemnation and an even more forceful reaction from the government.
On the government’s side, the belief that its counter-offensive would be brief was a significant miscalculation. Prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s government underestimated the strength of its foe and the unpredictable nature of war.
The results have been tragic. Ordinary people are paying the heaviest price. They face unlawful executions, rape, displacement, and uncertain futures. In recent weeks, schools have been destroyed, hospitals and health-care centres looted and civilian are executed. Those displaced because by conflict face starvation of biblical magnitude.
The Ethiopian rainy season has ended with the start of the Ethiopian New Year. Ethiopians are craving for a more hopeful new beginning. However, the improvement of the weather and dry roads might open up yet another opportunity for a further bloodshed. Calls for ceasefire and dialogue have so far fallen on deaf ears.
In June, the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew its troops from the regional capital. The Tigrayan forces used the opportunity to expand the conflict to Afar and Amhara regions two regions that share a border with Tigray.
Their goal is either to open a corridor to Sudan through Amhara region to get supplies in, or block the Djibouti Addis Ababa road in Afar an important economic life line to Ethiopia.
This shows that the TPLF’s ultimate goal is to choke the economy and target the government’s ability to govern. The ultimate aim would be regime change in Addis Ababa.
On the other hand, the central government’s position is to defeat the TPLF once and for all. In practice, this is extremely complicated as the enemy is an entity which is, for better or worse, ingrained within the people of Tigray. In other words, so long as the people of Tigray are willing to embrace TPLF, any effort to eliminate the TPLF is bound to pit the central government against Tigrayans.
People in Tigray are facing severe starvation. Citizens in Wollo and Gondar of Amhara region and Afar are facing unlawful killings and mass displacement. If the leaders are hell-bent on ignoring the plights of the suffering, they also need to be accountable for loss and destruction.
The leaders of all three have strongly spoken against the perpetuation of Africa’s dependence on outside forces. They also supported the revitalization of the African agency both economically and politically. In addition, they are more likely to play a mediator role that doesn’t involve inserting their own political interests. Lastly, they have a better understanding of cultural and political nuances of the conflict compared to western counterparts.
Share the news