07/01/2021 News and Commentaries – Tigray War
● Ethiopian army Major-General Belay Seyoum confirms the presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray. Here is an unabridged translation from a YouTube Video.
“Our door, our sovereignty must be guarded by the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF). It is true. The main mission of the ENDF is to safeguard our sovereignty. But we should also think about who stood against safeguarding our sovereignty. Our army was first attacked at the border, then an unwanted foreign force entered our territory. Are we the ones who let it in? No, we don’t want it. Personally, as a defense force, we feel bad. It’s our country. We know the problem that arise. It hurts. But who let them in? Wasn’t it intentional? It was the army defending the border that got killed. Then who would stop them from entering. They came in on their own. I think this should be clear. My conscience does not allow me to ask for help from the Eritrean army. Our problem is ours. We can solve it on our own. We have the capacity to solve our own problem.”
● Ethiopia blocking Tigrians from fleeing to Sudan. The Ethiopian Federal Army deployed more troops on the border area to prevent people fleeing the war in the Tigray region to cross into Sudan. Sudan Tribune
● Refugees entering Sudan on the rise recently. The head of the emergency room for the housing of Ethiopian refugees in eastern Sudan confirmed on Wednesday the recent increase in the number of Ethiopians seeking refuge and protection in Sudan. Over 60,000 refugees have fled over the border to Eastern Sudan; with thousands having arrived over the weekend. Sudan Tribune
● About 2.2 million people have been internally displaced in Tigray since fighting erupted in November with about half fleeing after their homes were burned down, a local appointed government official said. Reuters
● Ethiopia’s ‘Regional Special Forces’. The northern part of Ethiopia has seen a lot of conflict over the past year. One aspect of the fight is the emergence of ‘special forces’ units on a regional basis. Read more in “Regional Special Forces: threats or safeties?”, The Reporter, January 2, 2021.
● The Special Briefing. Back from the brink: global precedents, OZY.COM
In the early 1990s, more than a million people died in the country’s first civil war, which led to the formation of present-day Eritrea. And this past November, the critical East African nation seemed on the verge of another civil war amid backlash against democratic reforms launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — just a year after he won a Nobel Prize for reopening the Ethiopia-Eritrea border following two decades of tensions. For now, Ahmed has mostly quashed the rebellious Tigray forces, but this could be short-lived.
Using the pandemic as an excuse, Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian prime minister, canceled elections. When the head of the government of Tigray, an internal region of Ethiopia, questioned the legitimacy of Ahmed’s rule that has continued after his term expired, Ahmed sent troops to “seize” Tigray. This caused a civil war, created thousands of refugees and destabilized Ethiopia’s neighborhood.
Metekel, Benishangul Gumuz
● While the Tigray war rumbles on, violence elsewhere is spreading to an extent the central government cannot ignore. How Addis Ababa deals with ethnic violence in the region of Benishangul-Gumuz will determine the country’s future. Foreign Policy
● More than 101,000 people have been displaced due to violence in Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz regional state since July 2020. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)
Al-Fashqa, Ethiopia – Sudan border conflict
● Amhara militias are “asserting a renewed aggressiveness on the border [to Sudan] that could result in further provocations … If left unchecked, it represents the kind of ‘low probability, high impact’ scenario that could have devastating and far-reaching consequences.” Bloomberg
● Ethiopia accused Sudanese troops of killing “many civilians” in recent fighting over contested land at the nations’ border. Bloomberg
● Sudan army thwarted two major attacks by Ethiopian militia on Al Fashiqa. Media News Sudan
● “A force of the Airborne Corps and Military Intelligence responded to an attack launched by Ethiopian forces equipped with heavy weapons.” Sudan Tribune.
The Horn and GERD
Tigray conflict threatens the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Power Technology
The outbreak of fighting in Tigray in November 2020 threatens to distract governments from the continuing negotiations. The conflict is between the Ethiopian government and the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Both sides have accused each other of committing atrocities during the fighting. As of December 2020, it is estimated that several thousand people have been killed and up to one million people have been displaced.
War of words over stalled Nile dam talks, Al-Monitor
“Egypt has turned Ethiopia into a [danger zone] to escape its own internal problems, as there are tens of thousands of Islamists inside prisons in Egypt. … It is using such matters to avoid internal Egyptian issues and focus its attention on the GERD.” Dina Mufti, Spokesperson of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“Such an offense on the Egyptian state and allegations about its internal affairs is nothing but a continuation of the approach of using a hostile tone and fueling emotions as a cover for Ethiopia’s multiple failures, both domestically and externally.” Ahmed Hafez, spokesperson of Foreign Ministry of Egypt
Ethiopia’s Hydro-Hegemony Has Arrived. National Interest
The dam dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt most often garners international press, but the cases impacting Kenya and Somalia show that the pattern of Ethiopian defiance of international norms cuts deeper. While Ethiopia’s hydro-hegemony predates Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Nobel Laureate’s increasing domestic failures have led him to double down on Ethiopian defiance and intransigence. This is his way of presenting himself as a nationalist. Also, this has led Abiy to increasingly lash out at the United States by claiming that U.S. mediation has led to unfair restrictions, power limitations, and back-door colonialism.
As Conflicts Mount, Where Does Ethiopia Go from Here? Ethiopia has declared that its main military operation in northern Tigray is over, but fighting persists and existential questions hang over the country’s transition. Adem Kassie Abebe and Alan discussed how Prime Minister Abiy should navigate the troubled waters ahead. The Horn
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