- On Monday, the Ethiopian Air Force bombed an area outside Mekelle.
- Ethiopian Defense Minister Kenna Yadeta assured that Tigray's forces will be defeated soon.
- In order to be sure of a victory, Ethiopia may withdraw some of its troops that are currently stationed in Somalia.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday warned that the three-day deadline given for Tigray’s rebel forces to surrender had expired. Prime Minister Ahmed’s statement paves the way for a military onslaught by the Ethiopian government in Mekelle, the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Tigray.
On Monday, the Ethiopian Air Force bombed an area outside Mekelle, as part of the offensive that the government started on November 4 against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) party, in power in the region.
Prime Minister Ahmed ordered the air strike two days after the TPLF launched several missiles in the direction of Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, an Ethiopian ally in the Horn of Africa.
The episode exacerbated the conflict that has already caused hundreds of deaths on both sides and more than 25,000 refugees to Sudan.
“The three-day ultimatum given to Tigray Special Forces and the militia to surrender to the national defense . . . have ended today,” Abiy said in a statement posted on Facebook. “Following the expiration of this deadline, the final critical act of law enforcement will be done in the coming days,” added the Ethiopian Premier.
Ethiopian Defense Minister Kenna Yadeta assured that Tigray’s forces will be defeated soon. Yadeta stressed that local troops would no longer have the strength, capacity and time to intensify fighting in the region, and would be captured.
“They claimed to have shot down air force jets, and to have won over about ten thousand government forces. It turned out a lie, as they were known to lie during their rule over the past 27 years.”
“We [the Government of Ethiopia] can achieve a crushing victory any day from now,” he concluded. The defense minister spoke during an interview with German broadcaster DW.
Hundreds of people were killed and at least 25,000 displaced people sought refuge in Sudan. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has announced that he will lead a mediation mission.
In order to be sure of a victory, Ethiopia may withdraw some of its troops that are currently stationed in Somalia for peace maintenance to help crush the Tigray rebels.
It is a move that could weaken the fight against Al Shabab extremists, hence it could exacerbate instability in East Africa.
The withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia could frustrate the efforts of the African Union mission to stabilize Somalia and ensure a functioning government, in addition to organizing elections in the coming months.
To make matters worse, Sudan and Egypt– Ethiopia’s regional rivals– began joint military exercises over the weekend. The two countries are in dispute with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile.
Abiy Ahmed’s declaration of war also tarnished the reputation of the Ethiopian premier, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for a pact with Eritrea. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it was “deeply concerned” about the conflict, and called for an end to the violence.