The Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa will she fall?
“In July, I couldn’t believe it. Today is different. Our army will defend us but I am no longer at peace ”, Nathanaël testifies from Addis Ababa. “The rebels have gained muscle, they are going to reach the capital”, assures Thierry Vircoulon, of the French Institute of International Relations.
One need only look at the rapidly evolving situation in favor of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), say those who expect the capital to fall soon. Since the end of June, when the Tigrayans took the initiative over the federal army, nothing seems to stop their march forward. They are now believed to be less than 400 km from Addis Ababa. Commanded by General Tsadkan Gebre-Tensae, the killer of Mengistu in 1991, the rebel movement has been allied since August with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), from the Oromo people (30% of the population): an enlarged coalition, since November 5, to include seven other armed groups.
“The capital will fall, it has even already fallen, considers the specialist of the Horn of Africa Gérard Prunier. It is located in the Oromo region. OLA commandos are gaining a foothold there, waiting for the green light to seize the city’s nerve centers. “ The analyst believes that the Tigrayans will not necessarily enter the city but that they will remain in support of the OLA: “The TPLF has just been badly defeated in its attempt to take the town of Mille, on the road to Djibouti. The drones bought by Addis Ababa from the Turks and the Chinese, armed with missiles, caused enormous damage to the Tigrayan ranks, destroying their tanks and killing more than 150 soldiers. “
What is the humanitarian situation?
Since the declaration of a state of emergency on November 2, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated further. Police carried out a wave of arrests targeting Tigrayans. According to the UN, at least 1,000 people have been arrested because “Suspected of being affiliated with or supporting the TPLF”. These detentions reflect the climate increasingly hostile to Tigrayans: witness the calls for murder and even genocide launched on social networks and in certain regional media.
The blockade of the region prevents the delivery of humanitarian aid. “Since this summer, we can no longer go to the capital of Tigray, Mekele, and to the areas where our clinics are located, testifies a manager of an international humanitarian structure. Our relays on site are left to their own devices. They no longer have the means to relieve the victims of war and those who can no longer cultivate their fields. “
In addition to conflict and large-scale population displacement, drought, floods, epidemics and the locust invasion continue to generate urgent needs across Ethiopia.
What can the international community do?
It seems united in pushing the belligerents to negotiate. This is the position of the UN Security Council but also of the African Union and the European Union. From Washington to Beijing, the great powers have bet on Ethiopian stability and growth, of the order of 9% per year for ten years. Surrounded by failed countries like Eritrea and Somalia, Ethiopia was, until the conflict with Tigray, the guarantor of regional stability.
In the sub-region, Kenya is strongly engaged in mediation on the Ethiopian conflict. But two other countries seem to be playing the card of confrontation. Eritrea, on the one hand: allied with Abiy Ahmed, it took the Tigrayans from behind at the start of the conflict. Several human rights NGOs accused him of having committed numerous abuses against civilians. Cairo, then, is suspected of supporting the anti-Ahmed rebellion (armaments, intelligence). It could seek to destabilize a country with which relations are strained due, in part, to the Renaissance dam erected by Addis Ababa on the Blue Nile. A pharaonic project unacceptable in the eyes of Egypt, which depends 59% on these waters.