HomeWorldVictory in Tigray? - Ethiopia declares offensive about | Free...

Victory in Tigray? – Ethiopia declares offensive about | Free press

Nairobi (dpa) – After more than three weeks of bitter fighting, the Ethiopian government has ended its offensive in the Tigray region, according to its own statements. “The federal government now fully controls the city of Mekelle,” said Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of the capital of the Tigray region.

The military operation was conducted with great precision and made sure that civilians were not targeted, he said. The TPLF initially did not comment on the announcement. But experts warned on Sunday that the end of the offensive doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the conflict.

After months of tension, the Ethiopian government launched an offensive in early November against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is in power in the northern region. While the TPLF accused the Ethiopian Armed Forces of also attacking civilians, the central government insisted that only military targets of the TPLF had been attacked and that civilian facilities and residential areas were spared.

However, it was not possible to verify statements from both sides during the conflict. Internet and telephone connections were cut, roads were blocked, and electricity and water supplies were limited.

Aid agencies warn of a humanitarian disaster in Tigray. Recently, Caritas International and other NGOs said that none of the warring factions was willing to “give relief agencies access to people in need in Tigray”. About 1.5 million people are threatened with fighting and cut off from food and water supplies, they warned. At least 43,000 people have already fled to neighboring Sudan, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Abiy described the offensive as a “law enforcement operation” against a group opposed to the central government. The Prime Minister accused the TPLF of undermining its reform process since taking office in 2018 and of seeking to take back power. The TPLF, on the other hand, described the conflict as an attack on the people of Tigray.

After the offensive ends, police will search for “TPLF criminals” and bring them to justice, Abiy said. In addition, the reconstruction of Tigray is imminent and the refugees must be retrieved.

The US Embassy in Asmara, the capital of neighboring Eritrea, announced on Sunday evening that Asmara had been shaken by six explosions. The background was initially unclear, but a few weeks ago the TPLF fired missiles at Eritrea because air strikes were being carried out on the TPLF from Asmara airport.

“What comes next is uncertain,” Murithi Mutiga of the International Crisis Group think tank said on Sunday. The TPLF has withdrawn from Mekelle and other cities. But they have the firepower and the military knowledge to continue the conflict against the Ethiopian Armed Forces. Many people in Tigray also felt marginalized by Abiy’s government.

However, the conclusion of the offensive is “a significant success for the Prime Minister,” Mutiga said. Whether this can calm Tigray or whether a protracted conflict with insurgents is imminent depends on Abiy: “The central question is whether the people of Tigray can be convinced that they belong to Ethiopia.”

The conflict exposed the deep ravines in Ethiopia. While Abiy was celebrated worldwide for his reform path and peace treaty with his long-standing rival Eritrea and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, ethnic and political tensions in his home country grew under his government – between the central government and the TPLF, among others. The party and rebel group dominated the country for more than 25 years and ruled with a heavy hand, but has been increasingly ousted by Abiy since 2018.

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