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DECEMBER 2020

Ethiopian Prime Minister Shuffles Military Leadership As War For Tigray Region, Actually, Continues

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Shuffles Military Leadership As War For Tigray Region, Actually, Continues

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On November 8th and onward the fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region continued.

This is entirely in contrast with Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s claim that the fighting was done, and the Ethiopian armed forces had won against the forces of the local government under the control of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Ethiopia on November 4th declared a six-month state of emergency in the Tigray region, saying that “illegal and violent activities within the National Regional State of Tigray are endangering the constitution and constitutional order, public peace and security, specially threatening the country’s sovereignty.”

In order to make the operation more successful, the Prime Minister began replacing the individuals on leadership positions in the armed forces.

He abruptly fired a number of security chiefs without explanation. Thus, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ethiopia Adem Mohammed left his post.

His place was taken by a former deputy, and the new deputy chief of the General Staff was a retired general recruited to serve on the occasion of the war against the TPLF.

The director of Ethiopian intelligence was fired in connection with the transfer to a new job – he became the new head of the Ethiopian police. And intelligence was headed by the now former governor of the Amhara region.

Notably is the appointment of Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachyu as National Security Advisor.

Until 2018, Ethiopia and Eritrea, which separated from it in 1993 after a long war of independence, were in a state of frozen conflict.

After Abiy Ahmed Ali came to power, contacts were established between the countries, which significantly defused the situation.

This was done thanks to the efforts of Ethiopian diplomats.

Amid the conflict in the Tigray region, reports emerged that Asmara decided to come to the aid of Addis Ababa and began recruiting fighters to participate in the conflict in the Tygrai region, intending to launch an offensive from the north.

Moreover, it is argued that Abiy Ahmed Ali and Eritrean President Isayas Afeworki could have conspired about aggression even before the start of the Tigray offensive.

These statements cast doubt on Abiy Ahmed’s claim that the TPLF started the fighting.

In this light, the appointment of the foreign minister, who has experience of contacts with Ethiopia’s northern neighbor, to the post of security adviser starts making quite a bit of sense.

On November 7th, the main developments in the conflict that began with the state of emergency on November 4th are the following:

  • It is war, there is no use denying it, the facts are there. On November 5, the deputy chief of staff of the Ethiopian Armed Forces, General Berhanu Jula, confirmed to the press that the country “is at war with the Tigray schismatics.”

For the first time since his televised address to the nation on November 4, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a new statement on Twitter on November 6, emphasizing that the military operation has “clear, limited and achievable goals.”

Among them, the federal leadership calls “the disarmament of the regional security forces”, “the restoration of constitutional order and legality” and “bringing to justice” of the TPLF “militants.”

  • Abiy Akhmed confirmed that the air force carried out “pinpoint airstrikes” on the districts and suburbs of the administrative center of Tigray – Mekele. These took place on November 5th and 6th

Stating that artillery and missiles with a range of 300 km were destroyed by strikes on ammunition depots, the prime minister noted the successful completion of the first phase of the operation. In addition, the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority has closed Tigray airports at Mekel, Shire, Aksum and Humera.

  • The main battles are taking place in the Western zone, on the border with the state of Amhara, in particular in the region of Abdurafi, numerous casualties and destruction are noted, blood donation points and field hospitals are deployed.

President of Amhara Temesgen Tiruneh, confirmed the participation of the state’s security forces in the operation of federal troops. Amhara is a region that has unsettled territorial claims that compete with Tigray.

The heads of all regions in one way or another approved the operation, the regional parts of most states (except Oromia) were mobilized, while resistance was noted in the state of Somalia.

However, the TPLF has large mobilization reserves in the form of 250 thousand police officers, special forces, militias and many of the military who have gone over to their side – the conflict runs the risk of dragging on.

  • There is unconfirmed information about the participation of “military in the Eritrean uniform.”

Earlier, Abiy Ahmed had already stated that the Eritrean uniform was specially produced in Tigray for use in provocations.

According to unconfirmed information, Eritrean President Isayas Afeworki held a meeting with the top military and party leadership on November 6th, troop movements and the mobilization of conscripts were noted (starting from September).

There were also cases of desertions across the border of some Ethiopian military personnel after the seizure of the TPLF base in Mekel.

In turn, the head of the TPLF Debrezion Gebremikhael announced the passage of Ethiopian troops through the territory of Eritrea to invade Tigray in the Adiabo region.

Finally, Sudan ordered the closure of the border with Ethiopia to “prevent infiltration of TPLF militants.”

  • The parties are not ready for dialogue, proposals for mediation of the African Union and the UN were rejected by the Ethiopian government – the TPLF is perceived as an “existential threat” and, according to the federal leadership, should be eliminated, or at least its 10-12 of leading politicians, and the Federation Council has already adopted resolution on the creation of an interim local government of the Tigray region.

The TPLF are being called terrorists, and painted as extremists and so on, as such a very wide propaganda campaign is observed.

The number of forces on both sides, as well as the support on both sides turn this conflict into one that could potentially drag on for quite a while.

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