Understanding the Ethiopian Conflict in Tigray and Regional Implications

Horn of Africa

Somalilandsun: On November 4, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive against forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is the governing authority of the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray.

Coming after months of rising tensions between the TPLF and the Abiy administration, the latest military action was precipitated by an alleged surprise night-time assault by the TPLF on a major Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) base in Tigray that resulted in the killing of non-Tigrayan soldiers and the attempted looting of heavy artillery and weapons. Declaring that the assault on the federal army base had “crossed the last red line,” Prime Minister Abiy maintains that his hand was forced by the TPLF leadership into sending the army “to save the country and the region.” More than a week on, the military operation is still reportedly targeting Tigray’s militia establishments and the TPLF leadership, and not its citizens—though there are worrying reports of civilian casualties, which are difficult to confirm due to an Internet and telephone blackout imposed by the government on the entire Tigray region.

The Council of Representatives has also imposed a state of emergency on Tigray, effectively isolating it from the rest of Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy’s November 4 decision to launch federal troops into the country’s western Tigray region have sent shockwaves across the Horn of Africa region and beyond. With a population of 110 million people, Ethiopia is the second largest country in Africa and borders six other African nations astride the Horn and East African regions. Chronic instability and acute humanitarian needs are rife across the region. A prolonged conflagration between well-armed factions inside of Ethiopia could send hundreds of thousands of refugees across borders, disrupt trade routes, and force Addis Ababa to abandon its role of regional anchor state, mediator, policeman, and peacekeeper. That would be a potentially cataclysmic scenario for a region ill-equipped to handle additional tumult or a humanitarian fallout that could affect more than nine million people, according to the UN this week.

With Recent events in the Tigray region of Ethiopia have made international headlines,  Atlantic Council Africa Center experts react, analyzing what the conflict means for the country and its neighbors:  Read HERE