Africa

Ethiopia's civil war growing every day

Clashes between Ethiopian army, rebel TPLF forces expanding along northern line

Tufan Aktas and Gokhan Kavak   | 14.08.2021
Ethiopia's civil war growing every day

ISTANBUL

Ethiopia’s civil war between the federal army and the rebellious Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) is dragging the country into chaos.

Carrying the conflict in Tigray province to Amhara and Afar provinces, the TPLF continues to seek alliances with armed groups in conflict with the government in different parts of the country.

The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), which cut loose from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and is considered "terrorist" by the government, announced Wednesday that it was collaborating with the TPLF and working to form a coalition with other opposition groups.

The TPLF said it would not accept a cease-fire until its terms were accepted.

With TPLF rebel forces gaining ground, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has urged citizens to join the army.

Meanwhile, 2.1 million people have been displaced due to the conflicts in and around Tigray and about 80,000 people have fled to Sudan.

Both sides of the war are accused of committing war crimes by international human rights organizations.

TPLF continues to advance

The Ethiopian army achieved partial success in an operation it launched against the TPLF in November 2020 and captured Tigray's capital, Mekelle.

The army units, which remained in Mekelle for about seven months, withdrew from the region on June 28, citing the humanitarian situation.

After Ethiopia's military withdrew from Tigray, the conflict spread to the northern provinces of Afar and Amhara, and the TPLF continued to advance in these provinces.

It is claimed that the TPLF, which entered the historic city of Lalibela in Amhara state, also has taken control of most of Weldiya city.

OLA-TPLF alliance

The OLA announced Wednesday that it has formed an alliance with the TPLF.

OLA leader Kumsa Diriba said talks with the TPLF for political cooperation are continuing, adding other groups in the country will form a grand coalition against Abiy Ahmed's government.

The OLA did not participate in the peace agreement the OLF reached with the government in 2018 and had previously announced that it was leaving the OLF.

Human rights violations on rise in conflict zones

In the north of the country, while clashes continue between army units and the rebels, human rights violations such as massacres, rape and torture have also increased.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accused the government and TPLF of violations in the conflict in the Tigray region.

Adding that Eritrean troops have also committed human rights violations in the region, it called for a swift and verifiable withdrawal.

Amnesty International accused Ethiopian police of arbitrarily arresting and detaining Tigrayans because of their ethnic identity. In its report published Wednesday, the organization claimed that the Ethiopian and Eritrean military used sexual assault and rape as weapons.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ahmed declared that members of the TPLF used child soldiers to seize new territories and deplored the international community's silence over the alleged human rights violations committed by the TPLF.

Claim that Sudan is "feeding terrorism" in Ethiopia

For the first time, a high-level Ethiopian diplomat claimed that Sudanese generals fed the turmoil in Ethiopia by taking orders from other countries, directly targeting Sudan.

Ethiopia's Ambassador to Moscow, Alemayehu Tegenu, claimed that Sudan supports rebels in the north and west of Ethiopia and feeds "terrorism.”

The Ethiopian government rejected Sudan's offer to mediate with the TPLF.

US says there is no military solution to the conflict in Ethiopia

Before her visit to Ethiopia, Samantha Power, head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said on Twitter that there is no military solution to the conflict between the rebels and the federal government in Ethiopia, calling on all parties to reach a "cease-fire.”

Asking the TPLF to withdraw from the Amhara and Afar regions and Amhara militias to withdraw from West Tigray, Power also demanded that the Eritrean army leave the country.

She also called for an end to the trade blockade of Tigray.

UN famine warning

The UN announced that after eight months of conflict in Tigray, 5.2 million people, or 90% of the population, are in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance.

The UN said that thousands of people lost their lives in the conflict in Tigray and the exact number of dead could not be determined.

Ethiopia announced that it had suspended the activities of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the Norwegian Refugee Council, and the Al Maktoum Foundation over illegal practices.

2.1 million people fled conflict

While 2.1 million people were displaced due to the conflict in Tigray, it was reported that nearly 100,000 people migrated after the TPLF's latest attacks on Afar province.

The number of people who fled the conflict in the Tigray region and took refuge in Sudan rose to 78,000.

Conflict between TPLF and president

Once an active force in the country's politics, the TPLF entered into political conflict with the parties representing the Amhara and Oromo, the country's largest ethnic groups, in power, after Prime Minister Ahmed came to power in 2018.

After dissolving the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition formed by local parties in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples; Amhara; Oromiya and Tigray states, Ahmed later formed the Prosperity Party (PP).

The TPLF, which refused to join the new party, declared Ahmed and his government, which postponed general elections, illegitimate.

The TPLF asked the federal government to recognize its dominance in its territory, prosecute war criminals and give the Tigray people self-determination.

Experts have adopted the view that the TPLF would prefer to join the government and stay in Ethiopia instead of leaving the country.

*Writing by Seda Sevencan

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