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Tigray disaster: Eritrea’s role in Ethiopian battle

Eritrea's leader, Isaias Afwerki, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
Eritrea’s chief, Isaias Afwerki, and Ethiopian best Minister Abiy Ahmed

In a sign of the altering political fortunes of a man who became as soon as a pariah, Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki has proven to be a staunch ally of Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize winner and major Minister Abiy Ahmed, giving his troops tons-mandatory aid to fight the Tigray individuals’s Liberation entrance (TPLF) in Tigray.

In a fresh handle to the Ethiopian parliament, the Nobel laureate printed that Eritrea, a enormously militarised one-birthday party state, had fed, clothed and armed retreating Ethiopian troopers when the TPLF first attacked them and seized their bases in Tigray, an Ethiopian place which borders Eritrea.

Mr Abiy stated this made it possible for them to return to combat the TPLF, a former guerrilla flow with about 250,000 forces, except it become ousted from vigour within the location on 28 November.

“The Eritrean americans have proven us… they’re a relative standing with the aid of us on a troublesome day,” he brought.

Addis Sissay, 49, walks in front of his destroyed house in the village of Bisober, in Ethiopia's Tigray region on December 9, 2020
The conflict in Tigray has devastated the lives of many people

This turned into a significant acknowledgement by using Mr Abiy, notwithstanding he didn’t go as far as to admit claims that Mr Isaias, had also sent troops to help defeat the TPLF, a long-time foe of the Eritrean chief who has been in energy seeing that 1993.

medical institution allegedly shelled

The declare that Eritrean troops are combating in Tigray turned into made by the TPLF, civilians fleeing the conflict, and Eritreans interior and out of doors the nation.

“Isaias is sending young Eritreans to die in Tigray. The struggle will also extra weaken the economic system. but Isaias will be in vigour for a very long time. He lets individuals battle for his or her survival in order that they do not fight for his or her freedom,” stated Paulos Tesfagiorgis, an Eritrean human rights campaigner who was forced into exile through the regime in Asmara.

A US state branch spokesperson additionally observed there were “credible reports” of the presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray, and referred to as it a “grave development”.

each governments deny the stories, with Eritrea’s overseas minister, Osman Saleh Mohammed, describing them as “propaganda”.


As for UN chief António Gueterres, he talked about Mr Abiy had assured him there have been no Eritrean troops in Tigray, apart from in territory that Ethiopia had agreed to quit following a ancient peace deal between the two countries in 2018.

The deal ended the “no war-no peace” condition that had existed between the two international locations since their 1998-2000 border conflict, which left as much as 100,000 individuals lifeless. It earned Mr Abiy the Nobel Peace Prize, though the territory had now not been transferred to Eritrea by the time the conflict in Tigray had started in early November.

Mr Abiy’s executive has closely restrained access to Tigray for the media, UN corporations and human rights our bodies, making it problematic to examine studies or to examine allegations of atrocities made towards either side in the battle – together with the shelling of a health facility from Eritrean territory.

Eritrea has now not commented on the alleged shelling, mentioned in a press release by means of the UN human rights chief. Mr Abiy denies that his troops have killed a single civilian in Tigray.

“This conflict has been fought in absolute darkness. No-one knows the real scale of the conflict or its impact,” talked about Kenya-primarily based Horn of Africa analyst Rashid Abdi.

Eritrean forces accused of looting

US-primarily based analyst Alex de Waal stated he had been suggested by using a UN source that the battle had brought about the “enormous-scale displacement” of americans within the region, the poorest in Ethiopia with a population of about five million.

“If it goes on like this, there will be mass hunger in Tigray, and a inhabitants that is embittered and irritated,” Mr de Waal stated.

He introduced that he had also realized from respectable sources in Tigray, including clerics, that Eritrean forces have been worried in looting.

“we’re listening to that they’re even stealing doorways [and] bathing room fittings,” he noted.

extra on the Tigray disaster:

other Eritreans referred to that soldiers, together with their family, were fighting TPLF forces on several fronts, and some of them had been even wearing Ethiopian camouflage.

Eritrea insists that it doesn’t have troops in Tigray, with its overseas minister quoted as saying: “We are not involved.”

but exiled former Eritrean diplomat Abdella Adem mentioned he personally knew soldiers who had been wounded in combat, while a source on the pubic clinic in Eritrea’s southern city of Senafe informed the BBC that both Eritrean and Ethiopian troops had been treated there.

‘Isaias seeks TPLF’s liquidation’

different sources in Eritrea stated that Ethiopian troops had additionally been considered regrouping across the critical city of Hagaz, and taking their wounded to the local Gilas militia health facility.

UK-based Eritrean academic Gaim Kibreab said he believed that Mr Isaias had despatched troops to Tigray to pursue the “liquidation” of the TPLF, which, he brought, has been the Eritrean leader’s key goal seeing that the 1998-2000 border warfare.

The TPLF become in vigour at the time in Ethiopia’s federal govt and the Tigray regional government.

Military tank graveyard, Central region, Asmara, Eritrea on August 22, 2019 in Asmara, Eritrea.
A defense force tank graveyard was in-built Eritrea following the 1961-1991 independence war

“in the warfare of 1998-2000, the TPLF humiliated the president [Mr Isaias] by taking up the small village of Badme. Even when a global tribunal ruled that the village belonged to Eritrea, the TPLF refused to withdraw from the occupied place for 18 years.

“The president has been expecting this moment and the TPLF underestimated his craftiness and persistence at its personal peril,” Mr Gaim delivered.

From peace to battle

Mr Isaias’ supporters insist that Eritrean troops haven’t crossed into Tigray, saying they’d only pursued the aim of regaining sovereign territory via taking over Badme, and surrounding areas.

Expressing a different view, Mr Paulos observed: “Badme is again in Eritrean arms, however there was no public announcement about it as a result of that is not Isaias’ main concern. he’s still pushing on to crush the TPLF.

“Abiy started as a peacemaker and a reformer, but he then fell into the trap of looking for revenge in opposition t the TPLF, which is what Isaias desired.”

Women waving and smiling
Celebrations broke out on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border when it reopened in 2018

Mr Abiy says he tried to resolve adjustments with the TPLF peacefully, but become forced to behave against it after it seized defense force bases in a night-time raid on three November, convincing him that it desired to overthrow his government.

however Mr Isaias rallied to his aid on the time, Eritrean state media has stored its audiences in the dark in regards to the battle, failing to even file on the TPLF-fired missiles that landed on the outskirts of the capital Asmara in early November, inflicting loud explosions that had been heard through residents.

“Eritrean television talks of bombs in Syria however when the missiles landed in Asmara, it referred to nothing,” mentioned exiled Eritrean former government reliable Dawit Fisehaye pointed out.

In a tweet, Eritrea’s counsel minister Yemane Meskel talked about it turned into “pointless to extend its [the TPLF’s] closing-ditch, predictable, though inconsequential acts”.

‘Refugees abducted’

cyber web access in Eritrea is restricted and the country has no independent media and no opposition events – the destiny of eleven politicians and 17 journalists detained very nearly 20 years in the past remains unknown.

additionally, military conscription is obligatory while job opportunities are limited, resulting in many americans – exceptionally youths – fleeing the nation. About a hundred,000 had been living for years in UN camps in Tigray.

The UN refugee company mentioned it had obtained “an overwhelming number of credible experiences” that refugees had been killed, kidnapped and forcibly returned to the one-party state during the current conflict.

even though it didn’t say who become behind the abductions, a refugee informed the BBC that it changed into Eritrean troopers who loaded them onto lorries within the town of Adigrat and took them across the border to Adi Quala city.

Eritrea has no longer commented on its alleged involvement, however has prior to now accused the UN company of “smear campaigns” and of making an attempt to depopulate the country.

Mr Dawit talked about he did not agree with that the regime would ever reform.

”There was no alternate in Eritrea in past times because the management didn’t want it and the death of the TPLF will not trade that. anticipating reform is a pipedream,” he delivered.