After the first skirmishes, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered aerial bombings on the capital of Tigray, Mekelle. According to government sources, the air tryke hit military posts, destroying heavy artillery batteries and missiles with a range of 300 km. There were no civilian casualties according to gouvernmental sources. It is the first time that Mekelle has been bombed since the end of the civil war against the Stalinist regime of the DERG (1991).
The air stryke irremediably frustrates the efforts of international diplomacy to bring back the crisis between Prime Minister Abiy and the historic Tigrinya Front: TPLF which could trigger a series of other confrontations with Amara and Oromo, throwing Ethiopia into chaos. Abiy wore the uniform for the umpteenth time, preferring harsh manners to dialogue.
According to the Prime Minister’s announcement, the air tryke is the first phase of a military campaign against the Trigrai region (north of the country on the border with Eritrea). “The operations will continue until the local Tigrinya government is brought to justice.” The federal government would aim to restore its authority in the north and try the TPLF leadership for high treason. A leadership defined as fugitive outlaws who would use their own population as human shields.”
The air raid was preceded by the declaration of a state of emergency in Tigray by restricting movements, interrupting banking services and isolating communications. One day after the raid, the Federal Parliament voted for the dissolution of the TPLF-controlled Trigrai regional government.
Deputy Commander of the General Staff, Birhanu Jula said on state TV that Ethiopia has entered an unexpected war. “Our country is entering a war that it does not want. This war is shameful. The Tigrinya people, their youth and their security forces must not die in this useless war. Ethiopia is their country.”, said General Birhanu.
The first reaction of the Mekelle government came from its President and Secretary General of the TPLF, Debretsion Gebremichael. “I acknowledge that the federal government has decided to go to war on us, so we must be prepared to reject it. There is no reason to attack the people of Tigray just because they have decided to hold elections. This is a unilateral act by a federal government unable to solve problems without resorting to the use of force. “
Debretsion’s statement was followed by an official statement from the Mekelle government that announced the first steps taken in response to the federal government. The federal army and police stationed in Tigray will be regarded as enemies and occupation troops. Prohibition to enter the air space of the Tigris for both military and civilian aircraft. Any attempt to attack people and damage property will be met with proportional measures.
What defense possibilities does the TPLFF really have? The destruction of heavy artillery and missile batteries is certainly a severe blow but not capable of breaking the resistance of the Tigrinya armed forces. Ethiopia is a federation where each region has the right to think about its own defense with regional police and armies that are subordinate to the Federal Police and the Armed Forces.
The government of Tigris has declared that the commanders and members of the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Force have decided to stand by the people and the government of Tigray, opposing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed now called dictator. The Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Force owns about 80% of Ethiopia’s heavy weapons.
During these 30 years of unchallenged power, the TPLF has built a dense network of connivance and ties with many generals and senior officers of other ethnicities, 100% controlling the Armed Forces. It is no coincidence that the Mekelle government is now appealing to the commanders of the National Defense to support the Tigrinya cause to save the country by opposing the ‘regime’ of Colonel Abiy.
The Secretary General of the United Nations has appealed to Ethiopian leaders to stop this absurd military confrontation, urging the international community to implement all the necessary pressures to open a dialogue and a chance to peacefully resolve the disputes in progress. The international community has already glimpsed the gravity of the situation but it seems that it is difficult to find the right way to defuse a senseless and fratricidal war based both on questions of political and economic domination but also on personal pride and mutual hatred.
Sources within the Ethiopian armed forces have informed Al Jazeera that Prime Minister Abiy Hamed has blocked the mediation initiative of the African Union (based in Addis Aba) which had proposed a continental intervention plan in order to make the warring parties think and resolve the crisis in a peaceful way. According to these sources, the Prime Minister would have made clear to the African Union his clear intention to eliminate the TPLF party, calling it the greatest threat to national security.
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