Ethiopia is currently facing an ongoing threat from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). These rebels seem to be taking a stand against the Ethiopian government and refusing to barge in. The situation promises to intensifies after the government threatened to deploy its “entire defensive capability” to deal with the Tigray’s army. Such terror groups have been known to cause havoc in countries while retaliating against a constitutionally elected government. The presence of militants who are not controlled by a responsible government and operate independently is dangerous, especially to national peace and security. Recently, Taliban forces managed to topple the Afghanistan government and chased away the president, and now they are on the presidential throne. It becomes clear that armed groups of this nature need to be kept in check before making significant moves heading for high positions.
“Do not negotiate with terrorists” is the popular ideology propagated among security agents under counter-terrorism departments, and the Ethiopian government is likely to take such a stance as it alluded to deploying the nation’s security services to fight against the rebels. If this happens, then the conflict will escalate because an exchange of fire might erupt. The TPLF made military advances nationwide and caused thousands of Ethiopians to flee from their households. In all its activities, TPLF has managed to absorb about three districts in the fight against the military and police forces. Reports from the country depicted how around 54 000 people were displaced in the Afar region of Ethiopia [Source].
According to the TPLF’s army leader, Debretsion Gebremichael, his soldiers were only targeting all the forces fighting on the government’s side, especially in Afar, and they were moving to the neighboring Amhara region. The friction between TPLF, Tigray’s ruling party, and the Ethiopian military started last November [Source]. It was mainly caused by a clash between prime minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray ruling party. The Tigrayan party has dominated Ethiopia for almost three decades, so it was very determined to keep clutching on the country’s administration. The government fought and assumed victory after successfully capturing the regional capital of Mekelle. But TPLF was resilient and returned fire, and they took back control of Mekele as the government withdrew soldiers from the city. The Tigrayan forces stated that they would keep on fighting until the government accepts their conditions.
Eventually, a ceasefire was agreed upon in late June, and the government called back its military from Tigray, and in turn, TPLF repossessed some major towns, including Mekele. The rebels opposed the ceasefire agreement on Friday after refusing to back away from the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions. This act was treated as a declaration of war by the government in Addis Ababa, and it cited how this refusal is violating the ceasefire conditions and testing their patience. Ethiopian foreign minister suggested how TPLF’s invasion of Afar and Amhara is forcing the government “to change its defensive mood which has been taken for the sake of the unilateral humanitarian ceasefire.”
Media reports from the two regions aired out that about 300 000 people fled from their homesteads. The nine-month war has recorded thousands of deaths and is gradually destabilizing the country [Source]. The continuous persecutions and torment of citizens are frustrating government officials, and they have opted to use stern force to fight these armed revolts. A huge upset in relation to the June ceasefire came on Saturday after an Amhara regional official noted how the region is prepared to launch a serious attack on Tigray’s forces. People of the Amhara region did not appreciate the TPLF’s entrance into the territory, causing havoc by taking over control of a town hosting a Unesco world heritage site.
Such bold moves entail how these rebels are willing to expand their territory instead of upholding terms related to peaceful negotiations with the government. Sema Tiruneh, the Amhara region’s head of peace and security, held a press conference with state media to address developments. During the address, he said, “This is the time for the Amhara people to crush the terrorist group,” and added that “Everyone should come forward and defend themselves.”
It is a justifiable decision for a region to defend itself against an illegal invasion from “enemies of the state.” Mr. Tiruneh believes in the people’s determination to step forward and unite in “crushing” the rebels who have no respect for the government or citizens. However, his statement steered anger in the Tigray’s camp, and the militants felt threatened by the Amhara region’s head of peace and security. Getachew Reda, Tigray forces’ spokesman, responded to Tiruneh via the Associated Press and said his territory is ready to “extend a warm welcome.” According to Getachew Reda, their forces had landed in both Amhara and Afar as a way of breaking a government-imposed blockage on Tigray. The invasion was purely based on freeing Tigray from the restrictions laid on its people and not an act against the region’s residents or authorities.
Getachew assured the nation that civilians must not fear attacks from the forces, and he said, “We have to deal with anyone who’s still shooting,” and further explained that “If it takes marching to Addis to silence the guns, we will. But I hope we’ll not have to.”
In his response, he clearly stated, “We’re not after Amhara territory or the people of Amhara. …As long as they are not shooting at our people, we have no problem.”
Under the government’s command and terms of the ceasefire, Amhara regional forces cannot launch any offensive attack. Both the United Nations and the US showed red flags about the Ethiopian government’s persistence in blocking the Tigray region, which houses about 6 million. The Tigray’s armies uttered how they would not back down and pursue their “enemies” until their region is secured.
This kind of power struggle exposes the public to the dangers of a brewing war, the global coronavirus outbreak pandemic, and famine. Hence, prime minister Abiy Ahmed might need to call Tigray’s forces to the negotiating table to develop new ceasefire conditions.