No Mediation In Sight For The Conflict In Northern Ethiopia

Ethiopia is resisting calls for international mediation as the conflict in its northern Tigray region. Fighting has been taking place there since 4 November when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a ground offensive and air strikes on Tigray in response to local leaders there defying his authority. The fighting is bringing on a humanitarian crisis. Casualties are over 1,000 according to third-party NGO sources, and over 25,000 refugees are flooding into Sudan. To make matters even more dire, the conflict is spilling over into Eritrea. The bad blood between Eritrea and Ethiopia is well known and it’s safe to assume that if the fighting continues it will endanger Eritrea-Ethiopia relations, which have been improving in recent times.

Ethiopia’s move into Tigray was long-expected. The establishment of the Prosperity Party in December, 2019 as a replacement to the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front was bitterly opposed by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) which viewed the merger as illegal and did not take part. In September, 2020 regional elections were held in Tigray against the wishes of the central government. Ahmed has regarded these elections as a step towards Tigray secession and was likely a prime reason for the military offensive.

There have been claims of victories, liberated towns, and casualties coming from all corners of the conflict. At present though, communications mainly down and the media is barred from the battle zone, making independent verification almost impossible. On Monday, Ethiopian warplanes attacked Mekelle, the capital city, of the Tigray region, according to Ethiopian government sources. There has been no word on what the intended targets were, or of casualties.