A new civil war looms in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, there are currently serious clashes in the breakaway region of Tigray. There the Ethiopian army and the regional “People’s Liberation Front of Tigray” (TPLF) fight against each other. Large parts of the country’s military supplies are located in the northern part of the country, as the area borders on the neighboring state of Eritrea, with which Ethiopia has repeatedly fought.

Given the military strength of Tigray, a long and disastrous conflict looms. That, in turn, could have devastating effects on the already fragile situation in the region and ultimately also on Europe. The most important questions and answers to understand what is happening now.

The cause is a conflict between the Ethiopian central government in Addis Ababa and the Tigray region in the north of the country. This has recently escalated: Fighting between the national army and heavily armed military units has broken out in Tigray. In the social media channels, many concerned Ethiopians are talking about the fact that their country is now in a civil war.

The upper house of the Ethiopian parliament has decided to remove the regional government in Tigray. It gave Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed a free hand to set up a transitional government there and to take military action against the previously ruling People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). A vote in the lower house is not required.

Abiys federal government announced that it would now appoint members for a regional government in Tigray, “respect the rule of law, decide the budget of the region and support the process of holding elections”. Abiy said on Saturday that “criminal elements” in Tigray can no longer escape the rule of law “under the guise of seeking reconciliation and calling for dialogue.”

There are reports of massive troop transfers to Tigray. In addition, the central government has now imposed a six-month state of emergency for the region. The reason: “Illegal and violent activities in the region [endanger] the cohesion of the country.”

As reported by Bloomberg news agency, citing two diplomats, several people have already been killed in the fighting between local forces and the state military. Furthermore, there are said to have been airstrikes on deposits in Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said this on national television.

There are a number of issues, old and new. The immediate trigger of the conflict is an alleged attack by Tigray units on a military base as well as “constant provocations” through which, according to the central government in Addis Ababa, a “red line” has now been crossed.

But it is also about an illegal election two months ago from the point of view of the Ethiopian central government: when the “People’s Liberation Front of Tigray” (TPLF), which had dominated Ethiopia for a long time, humiliated the rulers in Addis Ababa with an approval of almost 100 percent. And finally, the central question is whether a country like Ethiopia with its numerous peoples, religions and over 80 languages ​​can even be held together.