In The Shadow of Peace War Erupts: This is What Lies Behind the Tigray Conflict in Ethiopia

Ethiopia was once applauded internationally for its many years of peaceful coexistence, both domestically and globally, including establishing peace with Eritrea.

In the face of peace – war erupts – as tensions have burst between the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa and representatives from the northern Tigray region of the country.

Eritrea, an incredibly closed-off country headed by President Isaias Afwerki, was once part of Ethiopia, but after a 30-year struggle, achieved independence in 1993. From 1998 to 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea engaged in a war that left tens of thousands dead. For the next 18 years the two nations remained rivals.

Tigrayan and national military forces collided, and reports of a suspected genocide of civilians was reported by Amnesty International. There have been confirmed deaths of hundreds of people. Tens of thousands have moved to neighbor Sudan as refugees.

Ethiopia Prime minister Abiy Ahmed at the beginning of November made it known that the Tigrayans had attacked a national military base. He reacted by sending troops to the area ruled by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a political party that once had considerable influence in the nation.

Days later, in a television interview, the Prime Minister announced that Tigray had been attacked by the Ethiopian military, destroying weapons near the provincial capital of Mekele.

Tensions have been brewing for a long time between Abiy and the TPLF chiefs, who have seen their national authority diminish since Abiy took office in 2018.

Abiy dissolved the long-standing governing coalition, dominated by the TPLF for years, as prime minister and formed the new Growth Party.

The change basically created a situation in which the TPLF had to either join the Growth Party and adhere to its policy, or not, so they decided not to join.

In appreciation of his attempts to normalize relations with Eritrea, which shares a border with Tigray, Abiy received the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in large part.

When Abiy’s government delayed the elections this year, citing fears about coronavirus spread, Tigrayan officials rejected the decision and instead held their election in order to promote the uncertainty for the current unrest. Abiy declines to accept the September vote outcome, leading to the hostilities. The postponement presented both parties with arguments for discounting the other.

Abiy Ahmed the 4th Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia intended to calm the situation as he wrote on his social media, saying, “to receive and reintegrate our fellow Ethiopians fleeing to neighboring countries.”

He vowed to guarantee their safety. The next day, he said Ethiopian forces will move ahead with what he described as “the final and crucial” phase of their military operation.

According to Amnesty International, hundreds of people could have been killed in a knife-and-machete attack in the town of Mai-Kadra. Who was responsible for the assault was not immediately noticeable.

Deprose Muchena, the head of the East and Southern Africa Human Rights Watchdog, said in a statement. The group called on all sides to give priority to the protection of civilians and called on the government to restore connectivity to the area, which was reportedly cut off at the beginning of November.

“We have confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians, who appear to have been day laborers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive,” Deprose Muchena, the human rights watchdog’s East and Southern Africa director, said in a statement.

The group called on all sides to give priority to the protection of civilians and called on the government to restore connectivity to the area, which was reportedly cut off at the beginning of November.

Tigrayan forces launched missiles at targets in Eritrea last Saturday.

Debretsion Gebremichael, Tigray’s regional president, claimed that Eritrea sent troops and tanks to Tigray over the border to assist the Ethiopian army, telling Reuters that the rockets were revenge. He did not offer facts to support his claims, Reuters said.

The outbreak of hostilities has sparked a mass evacuation from areas of the region, with tens of thousands fleeing to Sudan across the border.

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