What’s happening in Ethiopia? Flames of war rising in Ethiopia (Map Update)
Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) is operating against Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in Tigray province in the north of the country but when did the conflict start?
Tigray region lays in north of Ethiopia along the border with Eritrea and Sudan, and the main land for three tribes of Tigray, Irob and Kunama. According to Ethiopia constitution, Tigray province enjoy a some kind of autonomy. Nevertheless, the relationship between Tigray and capital of Ethiopia was under tension from time to time and it became worse after Abiy Ahmed took power in 2018.
Before Abiy Ahmed, TPLF was the strongest ruling party in Ethiopia but after Abiy was elected as PM, he started wide political reforms and limited TPLF power significantly.
Tigray people believe that the central government is trying to cease the power in Tigray region completely and put TPLF aside from power.
The first signs of military tensions appeared in September 2019 when a caravan of Ethiopia forces was stopped in north of Tigray. The convoys were transferring and evacuating the Ethiopian forces from border with Eritrea after almost two decades due to the agreement between two countries to open the border and normalize the bilateral relations.
The second serious tension between TPLF and ENDF took place in September 2020 when Tigray requested the central government to help them hold the regional election in Tigray region but Abiy Ahmed canceled the election due to Covid-19 pandemic. However TPLF with support of opposition parties in Tigray province formed the election committee to hold the election and 2.7 million people participated in the election.
On the other hand Abiy Ahmed announced that the government does not consider the election in Tigray official and banned the foreign reporters to cover the election.
On 4 November, TPLF attacked EDNF HQ in Mekelle city, capital of Tigray province and took control of it. TPLF claimed that ENDF were preparing for a long time to attack Tigray and this was a pre-emptive attack. Abiy Ahmed however claimed that TPLF crossed red lines and announced war against them.
Abiy Ahmed: TPLF intended to war. With today’s attacks red lines were crossed and the federal government has to enter the military conflict.
He declared a six month emergency situation and no flight zone in Tigray province, said there will be a military operation to restore the rule of law in the area. It is said that after declaration of war, the government cut the electricity, telephone and internet services in Tigray province.
TPLF also captured all the posts and stations of ENDF in the province and the forces in them joined TPLF. Some of army radars and SAMs including S-125 Pechora was ceased by TPLF as well.
It is noteworthy that TPLF has between 200-250 thousand experienced warriors and the army has 160 thousand soldiers, which is a serious challenge for the Ethiopian army.
According to TPLF officials, during the recent clashes, the group’s positions have been targeted at least 10 times by Ethiopian army warplanes. There are also reports of drones targeting Tigray positions. The UAE army are said to be assisting Ethiopia from a Assab base in Eritrea and targeting Tigray positions in northern Ethiopia.
According to local sources, from the beginning of the conflicts on 4 November so far at least 500 of TPLF or Pro-TPLF forces have been killed. ENDF suffered heavy casualties, too.
On 14 November, TPLF hit Gondar and Bahir Dar airports by several rockets. Late on November 14 also, Eritrea’s Asmareh airport was targeted with several rockets. TPLF announced that their forces are engaging with Eritrea army, which is ally of Ethiopia, in several fronts in recent days.
Currently, The conflicts continue between ENDF and TPLF in different areas of the province.
In the latest updates of the battlefield, in western front, ENDF seized control of the Gondar-Homera road and Homera airport. On the eastern front also ENDF tried to advance on Raya Azebo and Mekelle area, but the attacks were repulsed by the TPLF.
In the southern front, the Ethiopian army took control of the city of Alamata, and the advance continues towards Mekelle from the south.