Analysis: The fighting in northern Ethiopia – a threat to the Horn

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.”

“Fake uniforms”

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.

Ethiopia's northern command

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:

Nick Cheesman

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.

Expansion of Ethiopia under Menelik II




  1. This article sounds shamefully biased in the presentation of facts.This war was not supposed to have happened in the first place.It did so when a provincial government decided to act like a country within a country contrary to the spirit and provisions of the constitution.The same constitution entrusts the federal government with the mandate for certain matters including coordinating free and fair elections. Elections were postponed due to COVID 19.But, since when does a provincial government refuse to acknowledge this mandate and goes forward to organising a sham election with 99% plus win for one party?When this same party which is ruling this province controlled federal power for 27 years before the new leadership came nearly 3 years ago nothing like this happened.

    So, the long and short of it is, why do international media houses and so called journalists give a skewed picture such as this.How is Rashid now a credible voice on this matter? why do speculations such as’ Eritrean involvement’ need to be made when you did not even provide full brief of what caused yesterday’s Federal military response? It is not any different from a military action taken on a local terror group that held the people hostage to spring back to power in a divers nation like Ethiopia.

    Ethiopia does not need war…20 years ago a senseless war with Eritrea costed many lives.The people don’t need war and neither a self serving group to lead their nation again!

  2. I suspect Egypt with Donald Trump backup has a hand in this attempt to cause a war and breakup Ethiopia, their strategy to stop the GERD.
    We hope both sides in this conflict will see their real enemy is Egypt, war will only stop the economic growth steadily occurring in Ethiopia. For development to occur you need peace , stability and security, not war.

  3. The personne WHO wrote this analyse must first Make correction ,You need to Wright Tigray Not Tigré .Becouse tigré is a n’aime of One tribut in Eritrea .Dont mix your tigray to tigré🤔

  4. Mr Ahmed the Ethiopian prime minister needs to use his head and de-escalate the situation in the Tigrean state of the federation of Ethiopia.
    Ethiopia and the horn of Africa desperately need development not more destruction.

  5. What is happening in Nothern Ethiopia
    I would say is that, the old oppressors want to form their own seperate country in order to avoid being the subjects of Oromo or Amhara rulers.

    They know how merceless they were during their reign therefore want to be seperate country.

    1. Abiye has unleashed his ground and air forces on the defenceless people of Tigray. The power hungry dictator has been killing and jailing Ethiopians who dared to oppose him. He assassinated Engineer Semegnew. , General Saar and his mate, a retried general, Hachalu,General Asmnew and the President of Amhara Region. He jailed Lidetu Ayalew, Jawar Mohammed and many more. Abiye eliminates anyone who stands in his way as he tries to consolidate power. The dreaded tyrant of Eritrea oversees Abiye’s prolonging and consolidation of power. The intelligence officers of Isayas freely roam the street of Addis and Bahir Dar. The invasion of Tigray is part and parcel of his grand plan to liquidate any individual or group that could potentially prevent him from prolong his power.

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