One thing is clear about the fast-changing war that erupted on 4th November last year: it appears to have reached a critical moment.
As this map from Ethiopia Map @MapEthiopia shows, the Tigray Defences Forces and their Oromo allies are stretched. From the far North – along the Mereb River and the Ethiopian border, all the way down to Debre Sina on the A2. For the Ethiopian military and their Amhara and other allies this presents an opportunity.
It is an opportunity that Prime Minister Abiy says he is taking.
As he declared in a video the government released, the two last towns in the Afar region would be in Ethiopian hands on Friday.
This claim has yet to be proved, but the analyst, Sajid Nadeem, suggests it is true.
“TDF is not in control of any major town in Afar now. It is trying to retain control of areas on Afar-Amhara border mostly on Amhara side.”
One of the questions that puzzled many is why the Eritreans, who participated so aggressively in the first months of the war (along with Somali troops), have been so passive in recent months, as the Ethiopian military were forced into retreat.
This is not to suggest that Eritrea has played no role since its forces were driven out of most of Tigray by the TDF offensive in June this year.
Eritreans play a large part in holding western Tigray, preventing the Tigrayans from linking up with Sudan. They also are very active in controlling security in Addis Ababa and other cities.
But the main element of the Eritrean army has remained north of the Mereb river, reportedly behind 5 lines of trenches which have been dug along the border.
Is this about to change?
Will President Isaias come to Prime Minister Abiy’s rescue and launch a major offensive into northern Tigray – further stretching Tigrayan forces?
To this critical question there is no answer. We will just have to wait and see.