MEKELLE, Ethiopia — Eight months after the Ethiopian army attacked northern Tigray, the civil war took a big turn: Tigrayan fighters now on the offensive began consolidating control of the region’s capital on Tuesday.
The Ethiopian army has occupied the Tigray region since November. After a joint invasion with Eritrean forces and armed forces to vie for control from the regional government, the Tigrayan Forces, known as the Tigray Defense Forces, spent months regrouping and recruiting. new fight Then in the past week began a counterattack against Mekelle, the capital.
A New York Times reporter in Mekelle saw thousands of residents out on the streets on Monday night. Waving flags and firing flares after hearing that Tigrayan forces had invaded the city.
The rapid advancement of the Tigrayans was a major setback for the government of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. which announced when he sent his troops to the peaceful zone last year that the operation would end in the coming weeks.
Sisay Hagos, 36, who celebrated in Mekelle, said: “They offend us. Abiy is a liar and a dictator. But he was already defeated. Tigray will be an independent country!”
Ethiopian Defense Force soldiers were seen leaving Mechel in a vehicle through Monday. some of which have stolen materials According to international officials and aid workers A high-ranking temporary staff has been installed in Tigray by the national government. It confirmed that Tigrayan forces had entered the city and took control of the airport and telecommunications network. Officials have spoken on terms of anonymity to avoid retaliation.
The Ethiopian government said on Monday it had called a unilateral ceasefire in Tigray. It was not immediately clear whether the Tigrayan forces accepted the battle. Although it is difficult to know what is going on on the ground. Two international aid workers who have spoken to workers in cities Northern Tigray said Eritrean forces also withdrew on Tuesday.
They said employees had reported seeing the festivities in the Shire. A city inhabited by thousands of people from West Tigray. which officials in the Amhara region have merged with the previous conflict. Aid workers spoke about terms of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
In a statement released Tuesday, Tigrayan rebels said they were “Follow in the footsteps of the fleeing remnants” to bring back full control of the region.
Refugees and foreign observers have accused the invading forces of widespread atrocities. including ethnic cleansing and pushing the region to experience famine
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it had announced a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons. In the statement stated that “Desert Locust Invasion covid-19 pandemic many diaspora and the disruption of agricultural activities due to the eight-month conflict” was the reason, it did not mention military losses.
For the first time, the Ethiopian government has acknowledged that humanitarian workers face the challenge of reaching all areas in the region to deliver aid and food.
That acknowledgment from the government signaled a position change after months of denial of any problems. About food delivery in Tigray Despite many warnings from the United Nations and others
at the beginning of this month The United Nations says at least 350,000 people in the conflict-ravaged region have entered famine. While the United States Agency for International Development This week’s estimate for 900,000 people facing famine.
International humanitarian groups and aid workers woke up on Tuesday wondering what the terms of the ceasefire would mean in practice. So far there has been no official reaction from the Eritrean government. The military played a key role in this conflict. and being accused of human rights violations including rape extrajudicial killing and other cruelty
Power and telephone lines across the region remained stationary on Tuesday. A situation where many people wonder if Tigray will remain closed or not.
The war in Tigray has become a humanitarian disaster affecting millions of people. It has accused most of the atrocities committed by invading forces.
The United Nations and local officials said that in addition to the tens of thousands of deaths, About 1.7 million people were still driven from their homes. and more than five million people which is the majority of the Tigray population. urgently need help
The United Nations announced this month that parts of Tigray are in starvation. This is the worst in the world since 250,000 Somali people died in 2011. U.S. officials said on June 10 that about 350,000 Tigrayans were affected by the famine. and American officials said The numbers have doubled since then and are likely to continue to increase.
while civilians risk starvation There are reports of soldiers robbing aid food and preventing aid groups from reaching hard-hit areas.
Several of the worst human rights violations in Tigray This includes gruesome sexual violence. ethnic cleansing and the arbitrary killing of refugees and other civilians, accused of Eritrean soldiers and militias allied with the Ethiopian army.
The international watchdog ranks Eritrea as one of the most oppressive countries in the world. many years ago It’s basically a one-man regime. Ruled by brutal force by Isaias Afwerki, Eritrea recruits all young people into the army. without limiting the amount of time they may have to serve No elections, independent media, opposition parties or civil society groups.
all over ethiopia The government reportedly detained thousands of Tigrayans without charge. Most of them were soldiers and police officers. but also to civilians
The war began with Tigrayan forces on the defensive line, fighting armies of two nations – Ethiopia and Eritrea – and the Allied armed forces, but the Tigrayan rebels were able to regroup and launch a broad counterattack. Take back the cities
The reversal is less surprising than it appears.
The party that controlled the Tigray regional government, known as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, apparently only controlled that government when the fighting began. It also commands regional security forces, which are estimated to number at least in the tens of thousands.
In addition, the Ethiopian government’s invasion and human rights abuses have driven large numbers of conscripts into the group’s arms.
at the same time Ethnic clashes have erupted in other parts of Ethiopia. Causing some of the country’s military forces to halt.
TPLF also has a long history of fighting. Shortly after the junta took control of Ethiopia in the mid-1970s, the force became the most important armed rebel group. which eventually led the alliance that toppled the government in 1991.
The Tigrayan dominated the government for the next 27 years, and its members were firmly rooted in the military. Tigrayan’s heavy presence in the Ethiopian army has undercut Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s attacks as military units have sometimes turned against each other.
Pro-TPLF fighters regrouped this spring as the Tigray Defense Force, according to the International Crisis Group.
during the past week The escalating violence and troop movements in Tigray made it clear that Tigray forces were in retaliation. Heavy weapons are part of the battle on both sides. And major cities have changed hands, UN security documents show. And on Wednesday, the Tigrayan rebels attacked the Ethiopian Air Force’s C-130 transport plane. As he approached Mekelle, the capital of the region,
Ethiopian forces are said to have abandoned several strategic positions around Adigrat, Abiy Adiy and in parts of southern Tigray. The rebels said they had captured thousands of Ethiopian soldiers and held them as prisoners of war.
More recently, Abiy Ahmed, 44-year-old Ethiopian Prime Minister and Nobel laureate. Seen as a bright hope for his country and region, now foreign diplomats and analysts wonder how they did wrong about him.
After coming to power in 2018, Mr Abiy embarked on an ambitious reform: the release of political prisoners. Welcoming displaced people from abroad And most impressively, an important peace agreement was reached with Eritrea. Ethiopia’s old enemy in a few months. He allowed the once banned opposition party and appointed women to half of his cabinet.
His tumultuous reforms are a sharp rebuke to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a rebel group that has replaced the rulers who have ruled Ethiopia since 1991 into a totalitarian system that has achieved impressive economic growth in exchange for civil rights. basic
Westerners longing for a glorious success story in Africa are intrigued, and within 18 months, Abiy, the sole intelligence officer, won the Nobel Peace Prize But since then, Mr Abiy’s aura has been shattered, and the country that once honored him now sees him as a heretic.
in moving quickly He has released frustrations that have been held back among exclusionary ethnic groups, particularly his own Oromo, which accounts for a third of Ethiopia’s 110 million people. When mass protests erupted in the fall of 2019, he reverted to his old manual: arrest, repression and police brutality.
The civil war raging since November in the northern Tigray region has become a slogan for brutality. Mr Abi’s forces and their allies are accused of mass killing. sexual harassment and genocide and cause famine
Long-delayed parliamentary elections were once billed as an opportunity to turn the face of decades of dictatorship. has emphasized the divisiveness of Ethiopia not yet announced But expect Mr. Aby’s party to win easily.
No vote was cast in 102 of Ethiopia’s 547 constituencies due to war, unrest and logistical failures. Senior opposition leader jailed and their political parties boycott elections in Oromia. which is a region with a population of about 40 million
“These elections are a distraction,” said Abadir M. Ibrahim, an assistant law professor at Addis Ababa University. “The state is on the edge of a cliff. And it’s not clear if it can be pulled back or not.”