The de facto ceasefire in Ethiopia continues to be characterized by continuous air raids conducted by the federal government against targets located in the regional state of Tigray, making the political and military balance achieved in recent weeks rather fragile.
A new wave of attacks would have been launched against targets in Tigray in the second week of January. A first air attack was conducted on the 10 against targets located in the city of Mai Tsebriin, a small town about 20 km from the border with the regional state of Amhara, along the B30 highway, hitting (according to Bloomberg) a mill and causing, according to local sources, 17 deaths among the civilian population.
A second attack was carried out on January 11 in the city of Hiwane, a town about 60 km south of Mekelle, along the A2 highway, causing two deaths and numerous injuries.
On January 15, according to tigrine sources, three air strikes were conducted against targets in the town of Maychew, about 120 km south of Mekelle, along the A2 highway, in Korem, about 180 km south of Mekelle, along the A2 highway, and in Samre, a town located about 70 km south-west of Mekelle, along the provincial road connecting with Finarwa, on the border with the regional state of Amhara. According to what was reported to the press by the spokesman of the TPLF, Getachew Reda, the raids have caused numerous civilian casualties, although no information was provided on the nature of the targets and the number of victims.
According to TPLF sources, Eritrean forces present on Tigray territory have also conducted sporadic attacks against Tigrayan TDF forces, although in this case too it is impossible to verify the truthfulness of the accusations due to the lack of any evidence.
According to an article published by the Somali Guardian on January 11, instead, more than 400 Somali soldiers died during the training in Eritrea and the subsequent employment in the Tigray conflict, while others were forced to work. The article cites the statements of a Somali, Abdulkahdir Abshir, who claims to have fled from Eritrea, where 5,400 young Somalis were sent to receive military training following an agreement with mysterious features, to which the Somali press has devoted particular attention in recent months.
On January 12, the president of the World Health Organization, Tigrinya Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, made some statements that have caused heated controversy in Ethiopia. According to Tedros “the lack of humanitarian access to the regional state of Tigray to our humanity, and nowhere in the world can we witness a hell like that of Tigray”.
The words of the WHO president provoked an immediate and outraged response from the authorities in Addis Ababa, who called for the revocation of Tedros’ mandate and denounced a widespread policy of international support for Tigray and the TPLF.
However, the position condemning the federal government’s role is far broader than the Addis Ababa government can manage, and even the Nobel Prize organizing committee in Stockholm, which awarded the prize to Abiy Ahmed in 2019, formally called on January 13 for the Ethiopian prime minister to halt the conflict, implicitly holding him responsible for it.
The release of some political prisoners established last week by Abiy Ahmed, in an attempt to foster a reconciliation dialogue that does not involve the TPLF as a political organization, and especially its current leadership, seems to have had little effect. News of the bombings conducted through the use of drones certainly attracted the attention of the international media, relegating the release of the former detainees to the margins of information.
On the other hand, both the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, and the President of the USA, Joe Biden, welcomed the release as a tangible sign in the attempt to encourage a process of national political reconciliation.
One of the politicians freed last week, Eskinder Nega, blogger and founder of the Baldera for a True Democracy party, has communicated that he is willing to participate in a national reconciliation table, while none of the others wanted to make statements.
The new special representative for the Horn of Africa at the US Department of State, David Satterfield, on the other hand, announced on January 15 his intention to visit Ethiopia and Sudan during the course of this week, and then Saudi Arabia. Satterfield wanted in this way to demonstrate how Jeffrey Feltman’s resignation will not affect in any way the ability of the US government to closely follow the dynamics of regional politics and security.