Until June 2021, the government seemed to be prevailing with the military help of the neighboring EritreaBut the TPLF has resurfaced with a superior military structure and capabilities acquired during its 3 years in power prior to the Nobel Peace Prize.
Meanwhile, the Eritreans have withdrawn from the war, though they continue to occupy some areas along the border, diplomats said, and the Ethiopian Army is on the defensive after suffering huge attrition losses. The TPLF is trying to build a broader front.
Ethiopia’s most powerful militia, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), joined forces with the TPLF on the road leading to Addis Ababa. The OLA spokesman claimed that hundreds of Ethiopian soldiers have defected to their side in recent days and that tens of thousands of Oromo youth have voluntarily joined their ranks. Neither claim was supported by evidence.
9 militant groups, including TPLF and OLA, signed an alliance, claiming to represent a vision of Ethiopia more similar to that which prevailed under the TPLF, privileging ethnic autonomy and federalism, in opposition to Abiy’s proposals towards centralization of power and the creation of a more unified government.
The repression in the city has highlighted the ethnic nature of the war. Government officials, including Abiy, have increasingly used inflammatory language when referring to the Tigrayans, and the TPLF argues that it is fighting for the survival of its people in Tigray, which has been under lockdown since the war began in November 2020. .
The intransigence on both sides prevented a ceasefire negotiated by international mediators, including the African Union and the United States, and fears have spread beyond the borders of that volatile region on the brink of chaos.
With more than 110 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the 12th most populous country in the world and dwarfs its neighbors in population.
“If it is existential for Ethiopia, it is also existential for us”said a senior Djiboutian official, who spoke to The Washington Post on condition of anonymity.
He and other diplomatic sources said they were concerned that a rebel push toward Addis Ababa would lead to an increase in refugees seeking to cross into neighboring countries.
Unpublished contingency plans being developed by the UN refugee agency and reviewed by The Washington Post predict that Hundreds of thousands of refugees may try to enter Djibouti, Kenya and Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia.
Addis Ababa, home to 5 million people, is sometimes referred to as the “capital of Africa “as it houses the headquarters of the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and Ethiopian Airlines, the largest in the continent for trade and travel.
US official Jeffrey Feltman came to Ethiopia to try to negotiate an end to hostilities.
The mobilizations on Sunday, organized by the government, were also directed against countries that have called for an end to the violence.
“We do not need interference from outside”some of the posters said.
Those attending the demonstration also carried posters criticizing Western media for spreading “fake news” that exaggerated the achievements of the rebels.
Other banners urged the United States to “stop sucking our blood.”
The Mayor of Addis Ababa, Adanech Abebesaid in a speech that Ethiopia’s enemies were trying to “terrorize our population.”
“They say Addis Ababa is surrounded, but Addis Ababa is only surrounded by its incredible people, its vigilant and heroic children,” Abebe said.
She was particularly critical of the US government, which last week announced plans to remove Ethiopia from a trade pact over war-related rights abuses.
“If aid and loans deprive us of our freedom, if they lead us to sacrifice our freedom, we will not sacrifice our freedom”Adanech said, adding that the rightful place for his TPLF enemies “is hell.”
The Ethiopian Journalist Samuel GetachewSpeaking from Addis Ababa, he told Al Jazeera that the rally was designed to show that large numbers of people still support the government’s military operations against the rebels.
“It is also to show the world that Ethiopians want a local solution to the problem.”he said, referring to the anti-Western rhetoric in the crowd.
The Ugandan president will host a summit of the East African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, on November 16 to discuss the conflict.
Pressure on the central government increases after the TPLF said its forces were less than 350 kilometers from Addis Ababa. Hundreds of refugees from the northern conflict regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar arrived in the capital, a witness told the DPA news agency.
On Sunday, Abiy wrote on Twitter: “When we stick together, we can overcome anything.
“We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors who made great sacrifices for us and today we are committed to laying a solid foundation for generations to come.”, he added.
Independent human rights groups and the media have reported dozens of atrocities and rampant hate speech on both sides of the war. The conflict has claimed thousands of lives and caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
The TPLF claims to be pushing Addis Ababa as a way to force the government to lift restrictions on the flow of aid to its region.
Facebook’s parent company Meta deleted a post from Abiy on Sunday 11/07 asking Ethiopians to “bury” the TPLF. Hours later, Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, posted on Facebook that “a rat that wanders away from its hole is closer to death.”
The spokeswoman for Abiy, Billene Seyoum, said there shouldn’t be “moral equivalence between a government elected by the people and a terrorist group”, and pointed to his own posts on Twitter, where he referred to Western media reports as “alarmists” and “terrorist propaganda”. The Ethiopian government has banned access to the conflict zone and denied visas to most foreign journalists hoping to cover the conflict.
In the past
The TPLF has already marched on Addis Ababa in 1991, when the group, forged in the desolate mountainous landscape of Tigray as a guerrilla militia, stormed the city and deposed a Marxist-Leninist regime known as Derg, which had carried out ethnic cleansing campaigns, assassinated thousands of political opponents and provoked one of the deadliest famines of modern times.
So the TPLF was generally welcomed. But over the next 3 decades, the group created its own repressive regime. While cultivating close ties with Western powers, the TPLF suppressed many of Ethiopia’s much larger ethnic groups, including the Amhara and Oromo, creating a deep animosity that brought Abiy to power.. Abiy is half Amhara and half Oromo.
The Oromo, who represent more than 33% of the country’s population, have argued that successive Ethiopian governments have actively suppressed them. Many of those who saw the possibility of change in Abiy were enraged when his government imprisoned the country’s prominent Oromo opposition figures. Huge Oromo protests have repeatedly shaken Abiy’s tenure as prime minister.
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The rebels 350 km away and the Nobel Peace Prize promises blood