Tigray is a northern state in Ethiopia which borders Eritrea and Sudan and is home to over 5 million people. Over the past few weeks, leaders of Tigrayan forces in northern Ethiopia started launching attacks aimed at sparking a war in Africa’s horn. The rebellious Tigrayan troops have restricted access to the region and stopped any and all communication in the region.
Attacks by Tigrayan Forces
This week Tigrayan forces in the region fired rockets at the airport in Eritrea’s capital. A leader from the group confirmed that they did so because neighboring Eritrea had sent tanks and thousands of troops into Tigray to support the Ethiopian government offensive.
Ethiopia’s government fears that the attack may cause a full-fledged war at the borders. There are fears that if Eritrea gets involved in the conflict, then it could, in turn, draw in Sudan. If Sudan then gets involved, the assumption is that Egypt will also get involved. Egypt and Sudan have been deepening their ties amid a dispute they both have with Ethiopia over a giant dam the country is building on the Blue Nile. The Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed, however, said in a report he made that Eritrea was not involved in the conflict.
The local forces in Tigray have since been attacking foreign and government troops based and coming into the Tigrayan region. Due to this, the government has accused the Tigrayan leaders of treason, adding that the leaders intend to internationalize a war they started in the area. The Ethiopian government stated that its military operations aimed to restore the rule of law in the region. Despite the difficulty in accessing the site and the lack of communication in Tigray, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assured that Ethiopia was more than capable of achieving its objectives in Tigray by itself.
Result of the Conflict in Tigray
Because of the conflict, hundreds of people on both sides have died, and the war threatens to destabilize other parts of Ethiopia. A large number of Ethiopians have fled the northern state in Ethiopia into Sudan, seeking shelter. On Sunday, the United Nations refugee agency and local officials stated that the number of people fleeing into Sudan had risen to at least 20,000. According to UNHCR figures, more than 12,500 refugees had crossed at Hamdayat and nearly 7,500 to the south at al-Luqdi from Nov 7 to 14.
Several Ethiopian refugees arriving in the Sudanese town of Hamdayat reported that Tigrayan forces had been shelled from across Eritrea. Additionally, some said that the fighting in the region had spilled into Ethiopia’s Amhara state, and the local forces there were fighting with the federal troops in Tigray. So far, the local and U.N agencies have been trying to assist the refugees arriving in Sudan with few possessions or provisions. But the refugees keep coming in large numbers, and they fear the few useful provisions will soon run out.
The Ethiopian government believes that the Tigray forces possess powerful military hardware. Due to this, they have been carrying out numerous airstrikes to destroy equipment controlled by the insurgent Tigray forces. Ethiopians believe that if the conflict persists in the North, it will turn Africa’s horn into an international theater of war that could draw in many other rival forces.