Ethiopian federal government on Saturday 21st November announced that its troops have taken control of the mountain city of Adigrat, the second largest city in the region which is 116 km from the capital Mekelle. “Our defence forces are currently marching on Mekele” says the government agency Ethiopia State of Emergency Fact Check, a government agency. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in a statement confirmed heavy air and ground bombardments on Adigrat, without giving further information on who now controls the city. According to the federal government, the cities of Axum and Adwa are also under its control. The warring parties’ claims are difficult to verify because telephone lines and the Internet have been cut off since the conflict began on November 4 and the media is largely blocked.
In a statement on Saturday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed – last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner and now undisputed Warlord – praised his army’s advance. “Our forces have now completely liberated the city of Adigrat from the TPLF militias starting today. Together with the rest of Ethiopia, we will work to ensure that all humanitarian needs are addressed. ”Abiy said.
The need to win a definitive and swift victory over the TPLF leads the federal government to reject all international calls for a ceasefire and dialogue between the contenders. Prime Minister Abiy literally ignored US and EU calls for a truce. Pope Francis’s appeals for peace and the Italian government’s offer of mediation proposed by Premier Giuseppe Conte were considered unwelcome interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country and rejected.
The African Union has appointed former presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa as special envoys for the Ethiopian crisis. “The main task of the special envoys is to involve all parties in the conflict in order to end hostilities, create the conditions for an inclusive national dialogue to resolve all the issues that led to the conflict and restore peace and stability in Ethiopia” , reads the AU press release
The mediation attempt by the African Union (whose headquarters is located in Addis Ababa) seems destined to be wrecked in the bud. The federal government, hours after the appointment of three former African presidents to help mediate the crisis, has made it clear that there is no need for talks with the Tigray regional government. This statement is consistent with repeated claims that the federal government will not engage in talks with the TPLF and the regional government, considered a rebel party and a renegade and illegal administration. On Friday November 20, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told reporters that “until now, the Ethiopian authorities have not accepted any form of external mediation”.
A senior Tigray official on Friday accused government forces of ’rampant’ killings by calling on the international community to intervene. “Federal forces are very interested in the spontaneous killing of civilians, in the rampant bombing of cities” Tigray Presidential Advisor Getachew Reda said at a news conference. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of people were killed, more than 30,000 refugees fled to Sudan and Tigray forces fired rockets at the Amhara region of Ethiopia and the neighboring nation of Eritrea.
Abiy Hamed from ‘son of the revoltion’, Nobel Peace Prize and hope of democratic transition of Ethiopia after the Amara dynasty of the Emperors, the Stalinist regime of the DERG and the 30 years of Tigrinya rule of the TPLF, has become a Lord of War that uses ethnic cleansing as a military and political weapon. The Prime Minister’s objective is to destroy his political opponent,TPLF, and to annihilate the Tigrinya armed resistance at the cost of tens of thousands of civilian casualties. In this absurd fratricidal war one glimpses Abiy’s obscure political plan: to acquire total control of the country, establishing an authoritarian regime at the expense of democracy, human rights and civil liberties. The beliefthat Abiy intends to become ‘Menelik III’, undisputed emperor, is growing more and more in Ethiopia.
The indiscriminate bombing of urban centres continues unabated. The regional government and the TPLF are speaking openly about genocide, associating it with that which took place in 1994 in Rwanda. While suspicion of ethnic cleansing is growing stronger with each passing day, it seems premature to accuse the government federal genocide of the Tigrigna ethnic group. An accusation probably made for political propaganda reasons. The testimonies and complaints of ethnic cleansing and ‘rampant’ massacres of civilians in Tigray are supported by irrefutable evidence of satellite images provided to the Reuters news agency by the commercial space company Maxar Technologies.
“Federal forces have no intention of peacefully resolving the grave national political crisis. They are interested in achieving a quick victory through rampant bombing of cities and the systematic killing of civilians. The international community must intervene to put an end to this horrendous carnage ”, said Getachew Reda, adviser to the regional government of Tigaryduring a press conference.
In the other parts of the country (for now not involved in the conflict in the north) there are arbitrary dismissals of Tigrinya public officials, unjustified arrests and detentions and extra-judicial executions. There is also an explicit willingness among the media controlled by the federal government to incite ethnic hatred against the Tigrinya minority.
The federal government is also trying to annihilate the regional government. Arrest warrants were issued for Abay Tsehaye, Director General of the Wonjit Sugar Factory, former Head of the Network and Information Security Agency (INSA), Major General Tekleberhan Woldearegay and former Head of National Intelligence and Security Services Getachew Assefa; The president of the Meles Academy, Tedros Hagos, GetachewAmbaye (who was head of the federal prosecutor) and the deputy director of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of Ethiopia, Colonel Tazer Gebregziabhier.
Major General Kinfe Dagnew, former general manager of the Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) of the military, Tena Kurundi (brigadier general), Berhe W. Michael (colonel), Mulu W. Gebriael (colonel) and Tekeste H. Mariam (colonel), were arrested.
The hope of a brief military campaign nurtured by the Ethiopian Prime Minister is fading with each passing day. Even if the conquests of Axus, Adwa and Adigrat were confirmed, now the federal army must face the Tigrinya defensive lines around Mekelle, in a hostile and difficult mountainous landscape. There is a risk of a long trench warfare while with Eritrea’s entry into the war, the conflict has already regionalized.
The silence of the international community is deafening. Where is the international human rights community when the current government of Ethiopia continues to target a group based on its ethnicity with state-sponsored violence and punishment? Why is there a double standard in applying internationally recognized human rights norms to this government? The international community is called to fulfill its obligations towards the people of Tigray and the Ethiopian people so that standards of respect for human rights are applied fairly, an immediate ceasefire is applied and peace talks are opened, involving all national political forces, traditional leaders, religious authorities and civil society.
The Ethiopian civil war is part of the delicate dispute over the Great Renaissance mega dam and the exploitation of the waters of the Nile which directly involves Egypt and Sudan. If Prime Minister Abiy does not score a victory in the short term, he will give Cairo and Khartoum an opportunity to resolve the dispute with an air raid and missile launches to destroy the dam. The first signs are already evident. Egyptian fighter aircraft already present in Sudan. On Saturday, the government of Khartoum, for the first time, refused to participate in talks between the three countries to resolve the thorny issue. The interim transitional government, controlled by the Sudanese military, believes that Ethiopia has been playing for too many years and is the first to be responsible for fruitless talks. “Other solutions can now be considered” warns the Khartoum government.
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