The basic story is clear: Prime Minister Abiy has ordered his troops into action in Tigray.
This came after months of escalating tension between Tigray and Addis Ababa.
The Tigrayans held an election which the centre refused to countenance.
At the same time Tigray was refusing to allow the re-deployment of federal troops away from the north.
Prime Minister Abiy claimed the ruling party in Tigray, the TPLF “took measures” and “tried to rob the Northern Command.” The Northern Command is based in Mekelle.
“The government tried to avoid war, but war can’t not be avoided by one side,” Prime Minister Abiy said.
“Led by a Command Post, our National Defense Forces (ENDF) is given order to discharge its responsibility to save the country. The last point of the red line is crossed; to save the country the use of force has become the last alternative.” The Prime Minister called on the Ethiopian people “to follow the situation calmly, monitor possible localized flare ups, and to stand with the national army.”
In his official statement Prime Minister Abiy went further. He suggested that any troops found killed in the area of conflict who appeared to be in Eritrean uniforms were fakes.
Why was this included? Does it suggest that Eritrean forces might intervene – attacking Tigray from the North, while Ethiopian Federal Forces attack from the South?
This strategy could fall foul of reported conflicts within the Ethiopian military – as reported by the Horn analyst, Rashid Abdi.
The report that the Northern Command has gone over to Tigray is also reported by Reuters newsagency, but is still not confirmed.
Others point to different problems.
As Professor Nick Cheesman, of Birmingham University Tweeted:
An Eritrean-Ethiopian Axis?
We know that Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia have met on several occasions in recent weeks to co-ordinate their strategy.
Prime Minister Abiy is the only Ethiopian Prime Minister to visit Eritrea’s military training camp at Sawa.
How far this relationship will go is hard to predict.
But given President Isaias’s enthusiasm for his relationship with Prime Minister Abiy, it is hard to see the President abandoning his colleague at such a critical moment.
All the warnings from the international community have failed to prevent this conflict – which could rock the Horn of Africa to its core.
It could lead to a collapse of a system of states that goes back to the nineteenth century, when Emperor Menelik II swept down and captured vast areas of what is today southern and eastern Ethiopia.
Ordering his troops into Tigray might prove to be the least of Prime Minister Abiy’s problems.