In Ethiopia, the offensive of Tigrayan’s TDF and Oromo’s OLA forces continued, in an attempt to encircle the capital Addis Ababa and force the government of Premier Abiy Ahmed to surrender.
Between November 20 and 21, after intense fighting, TDF and OLA forces conquered the cities of Degolo and Mehal Meda, in the Amhara region, thus increasing the control of the roads connecting the regional states and, above all, increasing the perimeter of the encirclement of the capital.
The conquest of the city of Degolo, in particular, allows the forces of the TDF and the OLA to almost complete the terrestrial isolation between the regional states of Amhara and Oromia, suggesting that – if the counteroffensive were to continue with this propulsive capacity – in a few days the Tigrinya forces could actually compromise the ability of the federal forces to manage their already scarce synergies in terms of land mobility. Degolo is in fact 80 km from the border of the regional state of Oromia, where the northern border areas have been under the control of the OLA for weeks now, apparently intending to wait until they rejoin those of the TDF to launch the final attack in the direction of the A3 highway, thus isolating Oromia from Amhara.
The conquest of the city of Mehal Meda, which followed that of Senbete by a few days, was part of a projection of the Tigrinya advance aimed at gaining control of the main roads linking the eastern foothills of the Amhara region to the northern borders of Oromia, in the Wollo area.
In this area, the TDF control of the A2 highway seems to have gone as far as the town of Jewaha, located about 130 km from the border between the regional states of Amhara and Oromia, and about 220 km from Addis Ababa. According to unconfirmed sources, the TDF forces have pushed beyond Jewaha, up to the town of Shewa Robit, whose control seems to be still exercised by the federal forces and the regional forces of Oromia.
The advance of the TDF and OLA forces met with fierce resistance from the federal and regional forces on the Afar front, in their attempt to reach the strategic road junction of the city of Mile through two projection axes, to the north from the town of Cifra and to the south from the town of Bati.
The TDF and OLA forces seem to have great difficulty in crossing the regional borders of Afar, while intense fighting was recorded on November 19 along the border stretch of the B11 road, near Bati, when federal and Afar forces launched an offensive to try to regain control of the town.
The border town of Kasa Gita has meanwhile returned under the full control of the federal forces and those of the Afar regional state, engaged in a strenuous defense of the region aware of the strategic value of the town of Mile, which, if it were to fall into the hands of the TDF and OLA, would risk strangling the capital Addis Ababa by preventing the movement of most of the goods handled through the port of Djibouti.
OLA forces, finally, have over the past week further expanded their military capacity in the central-western region of Oromia. In addition to the control of a large area west and northwest of the capital Addis Ababa, the forces of the Oromo Liberation Army are expanding their territorial control in the area of Kelem Welega, near the border with Sudan. At the moment it is a very uneven presence on the ground, which however follows a precise strategy aimed at conquering villages and towns strategically located along the main roads of the western region of Oromia, especially along the route of the B40 and B43 roads, and therefore with the intent to reducing the traffic of goods directed to the A4 highway connecting to Addis Ababa.
A parallel objective of the OLA forces is to gradually make the Benishangul Gomuz region inaccessible to federal forces, determining in this case the impossibility of exercising control over the vast area of the western border with Sudan, where there is also the construction site of the GERD dam.
The federal government accuses the foreign press of propaganda in favor of the enemy
While the chances of a political solution to the crisis are decreasing day by day, the international community continues to raise the alarm about the precariousness of the situation, calling on foreign citizens to leave Ethiopia urgently.
On November 14, the government of Canada issued a statement calling on all of its citizens still in Ethiopia to leave the country immediately, adding that the Canadian government’s ability to provide any form of assistance on the ground is extremely limited.
The United States government has also called on its citizens to leave the country quickly, adding that it will not be possible to organize any form of evacuation from Addis Ababa with the use of military aircraft.
A few days later, on November 17, the U.S. Federal Aviation Safety Agency (FAA) issued a statement warning pilots of Ethiopian-bound flights of the “direct or indirect” risk of exposure to ground and in-flight gunfire related to surface-to-air missiles.
The Ethiopian federal government, unfazed by the role of the international press, threatened on November 19 to revoke the journalistic licenses of the BBC, CNN and Associated Press, accusing foreign journalists present in Ethiopia of being sympathizers of Tigrinya rebel forces.
The narrative of the “foreign press subservient to the interests of enemy forces” is an integral part of the political rhetoric of the federal government of Ethiopia and the Eritrean government, now symbiotic in the revival of their communiqués. The same communication strategy is pursued abroad by diaspora groups linked to the Ethiopian federal government and to those linked to the Eritrean government, engaged in organizing demonstrations of dubious spontaneity in front of the headquarters of the main television stations. It is striking, as always, the use of slogans and messages that are completely identical among the different communities, thus tracing the organizational matrix to Ethiopian and Eritrean governmental bodies.