Correction: The Situation Report of 08 September 2022 incorrectly stated that according to analyst Rashid Abdi, two Tigrayan negotiators had arrived in Addis Ababa for negotiations. Corrected statement: Horn analyst Rashid Abdi reported that a plane from Addis Ababa had arrived in Mekelle to take two Tigray government negotiators to a third (unknown) destination for negotiations. We apologise for the incorrect information.
- Peace negotiations between Tigray and Ethiopian officials are reportedly taking place in Djibouti.
- Two experts on the region say that their contacts are telling them that the TDF is “holding the line”.
- Doctors at Adigrat hospital in Tigray say that Eritrean army shelling of Adigrat town and the Ganta Afeshum district in Eastern Tigray has left many civilians dead or wounded and properties damaged.
- The head of Adigrat General Hospital, Aberash Fissaha, told VOA that 5 people, including 3 children, were killed and 14 others wounded by the shelling. Six of the wounded suffered life-threatening injuries.
- Dimisti Weyane, Tigray state-affiliated media, said Eritrean forces fired 34 heavy artillery weapons at the town of Shiraro in Northwestern Tigray. It is reported that many houses were destroyed and that civilians were killed and injured.
- In an open letter to the current President of the UNSC, France, and UN SG, Antonio Guterres, the President of Tigray Debretsion Gebremichael says Tigray and its people are fighting for their own survival and dignity against forces who want them “exterminated and vanquished”.
- The letter proposes four elements for a cessation of hostilities: I) Immediate and unconditional lifting of blockade and resumption of services, (II) unfettered humanitarian access, (III) withdrawal of Eritrean forces and (IV) return to the pre-war situation regarding Tigray land and borders.
- A high level international panel of mediators, accountability, verification, and a timetable are also included under the peace process elements listed in the letter.
- Debrestion stated that the war is still raging on multiple fronts with Ethiopian and Eritrean forces fighting against the TDF. He said: “Our forces have inflicted serious reverses on the forces that threatened us.”
- The Economist published an analysis of why the ceasefire between Ethiopia and Tigray failed.
- The article says that the humanitarian truce declared in March to let aid into besieged Tigray did allow food and medicine to enter, but kept fuel and cash in short supply, and communications, banking and electricity services remained blocked.
- The Economist blames the international community, particularly the African Union, US and the EU, for poor efforts regarding the mediations and follow-up of promises. The article particularly highlights the lack of pressure on PM Abiy to keep his promise of restoring basic services to Tigray.
- The Economist expressed particular concern over the current regionalisation of the conflict, through involvement of TDF fighters from Sudan, and particularly due to the renewed attacks by Eritrea on Tigray.
- Prof. Jan Nyssen and his team analysed notes from ethnographer Giovanni Ellero from the 1930s showing most place names in Western Tigray of that time are of Tigrinya origin. The researchers say this counters the narrative that Western Tigray would be historically Amharic in character, used to justify its occupation.
- Agenzia Fides states that the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in Somalia, is involved in a fight with the Ethiopian government, escalating the deepening crisis in the country.
- Addis Standard highlighted various civilian-led initiatives over the last month, including a protest led by women’s groups, calling for peace in Ethiopia.
- Africa ExPress states that according to its investigation, Italy is providing equipment and is training Rapid Support Forces in Sudan to stop migration. The cooperation is said to be funded by the European Union. Africa ExPress states the Italian parliament was not aware of this.
- The equipment provided to the RSF is reported to include drones to monitor the borders.
- Africa ExPress also reports that dabangasudan.org states Russian mercenaries from the Wagner company have been involved in training of RSF forces.
- The Ethiopian representation in Geneva has accused the UN International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia of weaponizing human rights for “political pressure”. The accusation came following the Commission’s call to the UNSC on 7 September to take action in Ethiopia to “ensure the protection of civilians and prevent escalation that could further destabilize the region.”.
- The World Bank Group issued a statement of concern about the situation in Ethiopia. However, it “ remains committed to continuing its partnership with Ethiopia for the benefit of all Ethiopians.”
Why has Ethiopia’s ceasefire failed?
Outsiders bear much of the blame
Sep 7th 2022
For five months a fragile ceasefire—or, more accurately, stalemate—lulled some observers into believing Ethiopia’s civil war, which counts ethnic cleansing and famine among its horrors, was over. On August 24th such delusions were shattered. Clashes between the Ethiopian army and forces from Tigray, a northern region ruled by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a party-cum-militia, erupted around Kobo, a border town in the Amhara region to the south of Tigray. Fighting has since spread across multiple fronts, including places deep into Amhara. Drones have struck Tigray and shells are reported to have flown back and forth over the border with neighbouring Eritrea. Why has the fighting restarted?
The TPLF and the federal government accused each other of shooting first. A communications blackout in Tigray makes it hard to know who is right. Either way, a “humanitarian truce” agreed on in March to let aid into besieged Tigray had been on its deathbed for weeks. Though the government had allowed food, medicine and fertiliser to enter the region, it kept strict limits on fuel and cash allowances. Telecoms, banking services and electricity also remained switched off. Aid operations have been crippled. TPLF leaders had long warned that they would resort to force if Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister, did not loosen the chokehold. They also insisted on the return of disputed territory annexed by regional forces in Amhara at the start of the war before entering any talks. Both sides readied their forces for more fighting.
Outsiders bear much of the blame. Mediation, led by the African Union and supported by America and the EU, has been dismal. During preliminary talks in June the Ethiopian government agreed to restore basic services, such as telecoms and banking, to Tigray. But Western diplomats, distracted by the war in Ukraine, have put little pressure on Abiy to keep his word. His government says that it is committed to talks without preconditions, but also claims that it needs security guarantees from the TPLF before basic services can resume. The TPLF describes this as “blackmail”.
Despite Abiy’s notional commitment to talks, in private many Ethiopian officials say there can be no deal with the TPLF, which they call a “terrorist” group. The TPLF says its goal is simply to force Abiy to the negotiating table. But it is likely to want to make significant military gains before agreeing to talk itself. That explains the strategic importance of the nearby border with Sudan, where fighting has reportedly broken out in recent days: if the Tigrayans win control of the border they may be in a position to resupply themselves. Sudan’s rulers are at odds with Abiy’s government over a disputed area of farmland and a new dam under construction on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. So they might well turn a blind eye to a Tigrayan incursion.
In recent days, a unit of Tigrayan fighters stationed inside Sudan has reportedly joined the fray in Ethiopia—a sign that its civil war may yet spill into neighbouring countries. More ominous is the involvement of Eritrea, an ally of Abiy’s, against the TPLF. There has been some renewed fighting on the border between the two countries; Eritrea’s ageing dictator, Issaias Afwerki, would like to see the Tigrayans routed. Between 1998 and 2000 the newly independent Eritrea fought a bitter border war against Ethiopia, then dominated by the TPLF, that cost perhaps 100,000 lives. Issaias and the TPLF see each other as an existential threat. Eritrea’s involvement in Ethiopia’s civil war complicates the fighting—and makes it much harder to end.