NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Ethiopia suddenly appeared on the brink Civil war, which threatens the stability of one of the most strategic regions in the world, the Horn of Africa, and the disintegration of one of Africa’s most populous and powerful nations.
But the crisis in Ethiopia, an important US security ally, has been building up for months. “It’s like watching a train accident in slow motion,” said Dino Mahtani, deputy director of the International Crisis Group Africa program. An International Crisis Group said this week. Now, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was awarded last year̵7;s Nobel Peace Prize for sweeping political reform, is facing the worst consequences from the country’s recent change of power. .
Here are the main reasons for the international alarm:
WHAT HAPPENED ONLY?
Two things happened early Wednesday morning: Communication was cut off in the Tigray’s heavily armed Ethiopian arsenal, and Abiy claims to have ordered the military to react before a supposedly deadly attack by Tigray’s forces on a military base there. Both sides accused each other of causing the fight.
Both increased pressure towards the end of Thursday. The Ethiopian army said it was deploying troops from all over the country to Tigray, and the Tigray leaders announced that “we are ready to become martyrs”. Casualties have been reported to both sides. And on Friday the prime minister announced his government had launched airstrikes in the “first round of action” against the TPLF, while the Tigray region was increasingly cut off.
Some experts have compared a confrontation with a war between nations, with two large and well-trained forces and little signs of retreat. Ethiopia is one of the best armed countries in Africa and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front dominated the Ethiopian army and government before Abiy took office in 2018. The country has a wealth of experience in conflict. from Ethiopia’s years-long border war with Eritrea, alongside the Tigray region, and the International Crisis Group estimates that the TPLF’s paramilitary and local militias have around 250,000 troops.
As communication is still lost, it is difficult to verify either party’s account of events in the field.
How did we get here?
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition appointed Abiy as prime minister in 2018 to help defuse anti-government protests for months and he quickly won praise – and the Nobel Prize – for opening up space Political and restrictive measures of repression in a country of about 110 million people and many ethnicities. groups. But the TPLF feels increasingly marginalized, and last year it withdrew from the ruling coalition.
The TPLF opposes the delayed Ethiopia’s elections, blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic and Abiy’s extended rule. In September, the Tigray region voted in a local election that the Ethiopian federal government calls illegal. The federal government then diverted funding from the TPLF executive body to local governments, angering regional leaders.
On Monday, Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael warned a bloody conflict could break out.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NOW?
Conflict could spread to other parts of Ethiopia, where some are calling for more autonomy and deadly ethnic violence prompted the federal government to reinstate measures including the arrest of critics.
Addressing those concerns, Ethiopian army deputy commander Birhanu Jula late on Thursday said of the Tigray, “The war will end there.”
Some governments and experts are urgently calling for dialogue on the Tigray, but a Western diplomat in the capital Addis Ababa said “the message from the Ethiopians is, if you talk about a dialogue, you will equate the two sides, but ‘This is legal government, it’s a traitor group. “The goal that Ethiopia has set is to crush the TPLF, the diplomat said on condition of anonymity, and” if I say I’m going to crush you, is there really scope for any negotiation? ”
The TPLF before the fighting said it was not interested in negotiating with the federal government, and it sought to release detained leaders as a precondition for negotiations. Observers said a full-fledged dialogue had to take place, but a statement late Thursday by a panel of former diplomats and military experts from the American Peace Institute warned that it will not go far “while many of the country’s most famous political leaders are still in prison.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN AFTER ETHIOPIA?
Less vulnerable regions than the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia’s neighbors include Somalia – Ethiopian forces are believed to have begun withdrawing from that country to return home – and Sudan, which is facing its own massive political transition. Neighboring country Eritrea shows no signs of being more open-minded after a drawdown with Ethiopia in 2018, and its government and Tigray have not gotten along well.
An area where Abiy once played the famous pacifist is currently at risk.
Observers warn that a possible conflict in these countries and others not far from the most strategic military outpost in Africa, the tiny Djibouti, where some of the global powers cover includes the United States and China with the only military base on the continent. The Horn of Africa is also a short pass through Yemen and the rest of the Arabian Peninsula.
Ethiopia has raised concerns over a dispute with Egypt over a large dam Ethiopia is finishing on the Green Nile. While there are concerns about military action, “I want to think that Egypt is a responsible party to realize that Ethiopia’s cleavage is fundamentally dangerous to regional security,” said the former US diplomat Payton Knopf, senior advisor to the American Institute. of Peace, said this week.