Source: RFI

Translated from French by Google

In Ethiopia, the application of the peace agreement between the federal government and the Tigray authorities is progressing day by day. Humanitarian aid, basic services, transport resume. One question, however, remains unresolved: that of the withdrawal of the Eritrean army from Tigray. Eritrea does not envisage without without solid guarantees for its security.

The Joint Committee consisting of the Ethiopian Federal and Tigray military leaders met for the first time in the town of Shire in northwestern Tigray on December 1. However, this would not have been possible without the Eritrean army, which had recently occupied the city, withdrawing from it, explains an expert in the Eritrean military. 

“It is therefore a sign that Eritrea is not totally deaf to calls to withdraw its troops from Tigray”, in accordance with the Pretoria peace agreement, says this source. That said, according to her, the Eritreans have only moved closer to the Ethiopian border territories, in the current state, and would not have received the order to go further.

An opportunity for Asmara to establish itself well in Ethiopia

“For President Issayas Afewerki, the military commitment in Tigray is an investment he will not give up,” explains former Eritrean diplomat Fathi Osman, now a journalist. Because the rapprochement with Ethiopia not only brought it out of its diplomatic isolation, but it also allowed it to establish itself militarily in Ethiopia, confirms the source close to the Eritrean military.

On the one hand in Tigray, but also in intelligence, in the Amhara city of Gondar – where the Eritreans train the special forces – as well as in terms of political influence.

According to the director of Radio Erena Biniam Simon, Eritrean President Issayas Afewerki especially wants “guarantees that the Tigrayans do not threaten him”. Because when the Tigrayan troops were getting dangerously close to Addis Ababa, during the summer of 2021, the political leadership of the rebels suggested that the next step would be to “march on Asmara”, the Eritrean capital.

“The Tigrayans remain a scarecrow serving to keep” the Eritreans “under siege”

The Eritrean head of state therefore intends to keep the border territories around Badmé and Zalambessa, which were occupied by Tigrayans before the war, in violation of the Algiers peace agreement, signed in 2000. Intentions authorities in Mekele are still unclear about these two border areas.

“Eritrea therefore seeks to maintain this situation of neither war nor peace,” adds Biniam Simon. Thus, the Tigrayans remain for Issayas Afewerki a life insurance and a scarecrow serving to maintain its population in a state of siege. »

The two journalists finally agree on another point. The original Eritrean war aim of “destroying the TPLF” was not achieved. But at least the Pretoria agreement formalizes the significant military weakening of the Tigrayan party, which also governed Ethiopia until 2018. we wanted, sums up Fathi Osman, we have to take what we got. »