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Ethiopia is in turmoil

by Cedric Gallant November 24, 2020
Ethiopia is in turmoil

Ethiopia’s ethnic tensions may cause a civil war

The possibility of a  civil war stirs between Ethiopia and its Tigray region. Since Nov. 4, missiles have been launched, with various battles held across the country. 20,000 civilians have fled to Sudan. All of this has unfolded under a communication blackout.

The conflict began with a surprise attack made by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TLPF) on an Ethiopian military base. This was a consequence of a dispute between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray leadership over a regional election that was federally illegal.

The reporting of this conflict became murky when Abiy cut electricity, telephone, and internet services in Tigray. It became a media blind spot.

Since then, the situation has escalated rapidly. Missiles struck Ethiopian airports, the Tigray Region and bordering country Eritrea. According to the TLPF’s leader Debretsion Gebremicheal, Eritrea is sending troops in Tigray, justifying their missile strike in Eritrea’s capital.

Due to the blackout, no one can confirm nor deny these claims, but both Eritrea’s leader and Prime Minister Abiy have been prompt in denying this.

The lack of on-foot media coverage has made this conflict hard to follow, but the facts are these: 20,000 refugees have fled the Tigray region to Sudan; missiles were exchanged between the TLPF, Eritrea and the rest of Ethiopia; there is evidence of mass killings in the Tigray region; Abiy is resolute in trying “to save the country and region from instability,” and the TLPF has no intentions of backing down.

The cause of this situation lies in Ethiopia’s deep-rooted ethnic dilemmas. The Tigrayan’s TLPF ruled the country for almost 20 years until they merged into a coalition due to other ethnic groups feeling discriminated against.

It is called the Prosperity Party and it appointed Ahmed as Prime Minister in 2019. Although, the relationship between Tigray and the rest of the country deteriorated when the TLPF left the coalition.

From then on, Ahmed turned against Tigrayan leadership, and they were eventually pushed aside from the federal government altogether. This escalating tension resulted in civil unrest.

Ethiopia has one of Africa’s largest military forces, but their most experienced fighters are Tigrayan. Most of their military hardware is controlled by Tigrayans. So, if this escalates further, the consequences could be very damaging to the Horn of Africa.

A civil war in Ethiopia and surrounding countries could bring Africa to a halt. If it keeps escalating under a media blackout, who knows where this will go.

 

Graphic by @the.beta.lab

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