The military operation launched on 4 November by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) continues in Tigray. The TPLF, in power in the region, has repeatedly challenged the authority of the federal government in recent months and denounces political marginalisation since Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018. For their part, the federal authorities have notably castigated the organisation in September of regional elections in Tigray, considered by Addis Ababa as illegitimate. According to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, tensions culminated in the attack on 3 November on 2 bases of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) in Tigray, which the TPLF denies (SSF 04/11/2020).
On 11 November, the Ethiopian army said it had carried out bombings against several fuel and weapon depots of the TPLF across Tigray. The Ethiopian armed forces have also reportedly regained control of the western city of Humera, indicating that Addis Ababa is seeking to secure the border with Sudan.
In Mekele, the capital of Tigray, public administrations and banks have ceased to operate. Markets remain open and local residents are stockpiling food in anticipation of continued fighting. Bombings and anti-aircraft battery fire have also been reported in the area.
A communications blackout initiated by the federal authorities is in progress in Tigray and no death toll has yet been communicated. According to the Sudanese authorities, at least 11,000 Ethiopians have fled the fighting towards Sudan since 9 November (Gedaref and Kessala States).
On 10 November, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that the armed offensive will be “completed soon” while the African Union (AU) has called for an end to hostilities. The Ethiopian federal authorities are trying to prevent the conflict from spilling over into Tigray, while the growing involvement of Amharas militias in the conflict could rekindle inter-ethnic tensions and put the historic territorial disputes between Amharas and Tigray back on the table.
In addition, Ethiopian police reported on 11 November that 17 Ethiopian army officers were arrested and charged with “treason” in favour of Tigray forces. Local sources say they may be Tigrayan members of the army who have been given a mission by the TPLF to sabotage the Ethiopian army from within.
Demonstrations in support of the ongoing military operation are to be anticipated in the coming days in the urban centres of the Oromo and Amhara regions. As such, the Addis Ababa municipality has called for 3 days of “peaceful demonstrations” from 12 November in support of the Ethiopian army. Similar mobilisations are expected in Bahir Dar and Debre Birhan (Amhara).